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Old Oct 31 2006, 05:07 AM   #1
edith
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Default Rosie

I wasn't going to post this originally but decided I would. I think I've corrected the grammar but please tell me any mistakes! I think there's something wrong with it too so if anyone can work out what it is please tell me- it's beginning to annoy me! I'm afraid it's English spelling and word use because that's what I've grown up with!

##########################################

“Is that thing ready yet?” Lieutenant Braun sighed impatiently as he leant against the doorframe.

Nearly,” I helped Rosie to her feet. “I’ve just got to connect the new optical sensors to the network.” I unzipped the back of the robot’s coverall and removed her back plate carefully to reveal her circuitry. “Come in, I won’t be a moment!”

“I don’t see why we use this thing!” Braun said with a Teutonic sniff as he leant over my shoulder. “She spends more time in the lab than the field!”

“Because she’s useful!” I said, snapping together the connectors.

“She!” he sighed. “You are infatuated with this machine! First you give her skin, and hair and features, then clothes and then a name! Can’t you just find a girlfriend?”

I laughed. “I’ve got a girlfriend! Rosie, well, she’s my bit on the side!”

He gave me an odd look. “Bit on the side?”

“Didn’t you learn any history?” I sighed. “Bit on the side is an old term for a mistress.”

He still looked blank.

I rolled my eyes. “It’s a joke! Did they remove your sense of humour at the academy?”

He chuckled. “No, they just rationalised it!”

I laughed. “Perhaps I should try and find Rosie a rational sense of humour! Perhaps that’s what she’s missing!”

He gave me a strange look.

“I was being silly again!”

“Why must you trivialise everything!” he asked between giggles. “I never understand you!”

“I don’t!” I said as I reattached the back plate.

“But you do!” he choked. “The jokes, the history, even this a-android is trivial!”

“Rosie is not trivial!” I protested. “She’s the Robot: Observation Service: 1 Experimental!”

“Then why does it have skin, features and a name? Why is it a female form?” He looked at me critically.

“Because I’d feel stupid calling a male form Rosie!” I laughed. “Rosie’s not trivial, she looks like a human because she needs to! A metal block could tell me what this place looks like, a probe could tell me the atmospheric conditions from space and a meter could tell me the radiation levels, but Rosie does more than that!” I sighed. “Can’t you see? Rosie is the perfect guinea pig! Every micrometre of that soft, pale, resilient skin is stuffed with sensors! She can go where you and I can go, she can tell us what it would be like to stand on the surface, whether it is safe or inimical, and she can’t die! She can’t be sick, break bones or panic, she’s just a walking tool! She’ll carry on through fire, flood or famine, or even space!” I zipped up the coverall. “Come on!” we left the room with Rosie following two steps behind.

***

Captain Hill was waiting for me near the airlock. “Is the thing ready?” he asked impatiently. “We’ve only got three hours before it gets too hot!”
I nodded, “Yes sir!” I logged onto the nearest monitor and tested out a few of Rosie’s remote functions. “Everything’s green!”

“Everything?”

“Ish…”

“Ish?” Captain Hill gave me a Look.

“I’m still not quite happy about the optics…”

“Bragg! You’re never happy about the optics! Send her out!” He nodded to a waiting technician and the door slid open. I turned to Rosie.

“Please enter the airlock.” I commanded.

“Affirmative,” she replied in a smooth, feminine voice. She strode through the door and stood at attention inside the airlock. The door slid shut.

I watched the screen as Rosie stalked out onto the surface. I placed the visor over my eyes and I saw what she saw.

This planet was beautiful, if not what I would consider paradise! Great rocky pillars rose from the sandy floor where flower speckled scrubby vegetation nestled close to the ground. Every now and then an iridescent invertebrate would scuttle or flap into view, fluttering around Rosie before darting away. There was a deep, clear river lined with red and blue stones and the banks were covered with taller, brightly coloured plants that rustled in the breeze. However, I was not going to join her! Rosie could smell increased levels of sulphur in the atmosphere due to the volcano that was rumbling away in the distance, and her thermometer measured 307 Kelvin in the shade! The invertebrates could keep the beauty as far as I was concerned!

“Is everything going to plan?” Captain Hill asked.

I nodded, loath to speak as Rosie picked her way through some long, lush foliage flourishing in a hollow. I navigated her around the swampy pool in the centre.

“She’s working well today!” He sighed. “Think you’ve got that shift problem with the optics sorted out?”

“Yep, I think this new one’s getting quite close to the mark one human eyeball!” I made Rosie pick a sample of the foliage and examine it closely.

“Wonderful thing the human eye!” Hill commented.

“Bloody hard to build!” Rosie was wandering along a riverbank; she knelt and sampled the water. “I think I’ve sorted out the resolution problem but there’s still a little bit of barrel distortion. Still, nothing’s perfect!”

Hill grunted. “How right you are!” He gave a little chuckle. “You must say that she looks almost perfect though, your friend did a good job.”

I nodded again. “He sure did!” I said, making Rosie examine her long, thin fingers with their smooth, oval nails. “Mind you, he had a good model.” I allowed myself a proprietary grin.

“Elise?”

I nodded, sending Rosie off towards a nearby rocky outcrop. “That’s how I met her!” I gave a deep sigh. “Though I think she’s gone off me a bit recently.”

“Off you?”

“I’m never there for her!” I pointed out. “I’m either here or in my lab. She’s young, beautiful and sociable and I’m not!”

“I wouldn’t say…”

“Huh! All I’ve got is brain and money and there’re other, bigger, richer fish in the sea!” I shut my eyes for a moment. “I think she’s found someone else.”

“Someone else?”

“Yep, she seems to be spending a lot of time with a guy named Georgi and she’s always busy when I call her.”

“Perhaps he’s just a friend.” Hill said.

“Perhaps… Damn! I’ve lost Rosie!” The optical signal had gone dead.

“Is she in a cave?”

“No, the spotlight lights up automatically as soon as the light drops below a given level. I think she’s out of range. I’ll call her back on the emergency relay.”

There was silence for three sickeningly long seconds and then a response, then, after five more, vision cut back in. I did some rapid calculations; Rosie was in range of the ship by several kilometres. The damned optics circuits must have conked out again! I called her back.

“Found her?” Hill asked.

“Yep, within range too, I’ve recalled her for repairs. Something’s gone wrong with the optical circuits again! Oh for the mark one human eyeball!”

I kept a close eye on Rosie as she hurried back to the ship. At this range the optics circuits seemed almost perfect except for a little bit of a shift into the infrared. Those damned optics circuits! Somehow tuning them to measure extremes was far easier than tuning them to normal.

***

Back in the lab I made Rosie sit on the couch as I tested her optical circuits and recalibrated them.

“Oh for a mark one human eyeball!” I sighed as I slipped and sent Rosie’s vision into the far ultraviolet. “If only those idiots could make a human eyeball, everything would be just right! You’ll never be perfect otherwise!” I reset her vision and helped her to her feet. “Now then girl, off to bed with you.”

As I shut her into her cupboard I was sure I saw the flicker of a smile. I shook my head and wandered off to the mess. It must be the stress! Rosie was the Robot: Observation Service One - Experimental, she couldn’t smile! I needed a lot of coffee very fast!

***

By the next day I’d forgotten about the smile as I adjusted the optical transmitter. “There you are Rosie,” I said as I smoothed back her hair. “All fixed!” I stood up and stretched and someone knocked on the door.

“Come in!” I called.

Braun pushed the door open. “I found these in the mess,” he said with a sniff, slamming my implants onto the table.

“I’ve been looking for these!” I said, removing my close vision implants. “I took them off when the Captain showed me that article. Where were they?” I attached them and blinked while my eyes grew accustomed to them.

“On the table.” he said.

“Typical!” I remarked. “I really should get a better spare set!”

Braun look disgusted. “You should not lose them!” he said bluntly.

“Yes, but I can’t see them!” I sighed and Braun gave me a prim look.

“You ought to have surgery!”

“I did! I still need the implants though.”

Braun nodded. “I’m sorry.” he apologised, looking embarrassed. “I’m afraid I have to go,” he added. “I’m due on the Bridge in a few minutes.” He turned on his heel and left the room.

“Damn Braun and his perfect eyeballs!” I muttered to Rosie as I put her back into her cupboard. I’ve always been touchy about my eyesight especially after the standard corrective surgery failed leaving me almost blind without my implants; an unusual situation in a world where corrective surgery can relieve what genetics fails to remove. I locked my door and went to examine yesterday’s results.

***

“Have you locked someone in your room?” Captain Hill asked me as he poked his head round the door of the computer lab later that day.

“No,” I said as I applied a Fourier transform to the set of data I was working on. “Why?”

“Oh. I just thought I heard something.”

I saved my data and stood up. “I’d better go and check, I’m sure everything’s off though!”

My room was, much as I expected, completely still when I opened the door. I shrugged and got Rosie out. I wanted to test the optical circuits again.

***

“Will that thing stop staring at me!” Braun shouted halfway through the test.

I turned to him, his face was pale and he was shaking. “Staring?” I asked.
I looked at Rosie and she looked blankly back at me. “She always looks like that!”

“But she was!” He protested. “She was eying me up!”

“Lieutenant Braun, take the rest of the shift off.” Captain Hill said.

Braun nodded and left the room.

Hill looked at me. “I don’t know what’s got into that boy!” he said with a shake of his head. “He’s usually as steady as a rock! You’d better put Rosie away though, I don’t think anyone’s in the mood for tests today.”
I nodded and locked Rosie into her cupboard.

***

That night I awoke to the sound of sirens. I scrambled out of bed and shoved my implants in before rushing over to the lab.

My lab door was lying on the floor and instruments were strewn all over the corridor. I stepped over the piles of broken glass and shattered plastic to where Rosie’s cupboard was.

It had been destroyed! The frame was crooked and one whole panel lay shattered on the floor, and, if that was not enough, Rosie was gone! I ran to find Hill.

He was standing in the corridor a few metres away and he was shaking. “Look in there!” he gasped, pointing into a room.

Someone had broken down this door too and straight away I knew whom.

Rosie was standing next to the bed holding something in her hand. Braun lay on the scarlet stained sheets.

“Perfect Mark One Eyeball?” she said as she held out something in her hand.

I shook my head. “No, not perfect, dead.” I held out my hand and she placed Braun’s eyes in my hand.

“Not good?” she asked, the corners of her mouth drooped and she bowed her head like a small child.

“No sweetie,” I said as calmly as I could manage, “but you weren’t to know. Come here.”

She smiled and stood next to me. I reached behind her and switched her off.

***

We locked Rosie in a steel cupboard in the hold of the ship and locked and barred the door.

I turned to Hill as we walked up to the bridge. “Why did you do that? She was switched off! There’s no power going through her!”

“Did you switch her off last night?”

I nodded. “I always do!”

“Well, she was definitely on a few minutes ago.”

“Could someone have got in…”

“No. Didn’t you notice? The door had been broken down from the inside…”

I shook my head. “Rosie shouldn’t have been able to do that! She can’t even lift a finger without instructions!” I gabbled. “She’s a machine! No more able to act for herself than a monitor or a speaker! She’s just a machine!” I sobbed. Poor Braun!

“Could someone have been controlling her?” Lieutenant Dimitri asked timidly. She was shaking and was standing as far away from the locked door as she could manage.

I shrugged. “It’s possible. Her remote records should tell us!” I switched on the nearest terminal and opened Rosie’s program; it took a while, my computer was unusually slow.

“Should that line be wriggling like that?” Hill asked pointing at the screen.

I looked at the monitor. “No! It definitely should not!” I leapt back from the screen as if I’d had an electric shock.

“What is it?” Hill demanded.

“She’s… on! She shouldn’t be! She can’t be! I removed the power unit, there’s nothing there…”

“Sir!” Dimitri interrupted. “Are you sure that’s Rosie. That wave doesn’t look right!”

Hill looked at the line on the screen. “It does look familiar! What do you think?”

My heart sank even further. “It’s impossible! It’s a beta wave, it has to be a beta wave, I can’t see what else it could be!” I groaned and buried my head in my hands. “What have I done? It shouldn’t be possible!”

“Bragg!” Hill bellowed. “Are you telling me that that android is… alive?”

***

There are only a handful of us left alive now, barricaded in the Bridge. We lost contact with Engineering two hours ago. They cut the transmission as Rosie wrenched the door off its hinges. We cut the visuals to each section of the ship as soon as Rosie arrived. The sight of her standing there with the mutilated corpse held in one hand was more than enough for anyone, especially as we know that we’ll see it all too clearly when she arrives.

***

She’s only three bulkheads away now and Hill has found just enough ammunition for all of us. He’s volunteered to carry it out himself, though it’s not his fault. We’re all composing messages for our families now, though I doubt anyone will ever read them. Dimitri is going first and I will die just before Hill. Everyone is silent, no weeping, no shouting, not even any joking as Hill loads the weapon.

***

There is just the two of us now as Hill reloads the weapon for me. Rosie is almost in now. I can hear her clawing at the door.
I stand against the wall.

***

I will never know, no one will, what happened in that brief moment when I lost Rosie. All I can deduce is that in that blackout Rosie met someone or something that changed her. Despite all our expert knowledge we could not stop her and now all we can do is wait while Rosie smashes her way through the ship on her never ending quest for the perfect mark one human eyeball.
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Last edited by edith; Oct 31 2006 at 09:35 AM.
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Old Oct 31 2006, 08:02 AM   #2
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Default Re: Rosie

I like the premise of this story very much, and can find only one serious stylistic niggle, far too many exclamation points! Don't put more than two sentences with an exclamation point one after the other! Unless they're really shouting all the time, in which case you should say so!

Seriously, deleting 3 out of every 4 exclamation points should make the story more enjoyable to read.

You wrench a door off its hinges, not of.
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Old Oct 31 2006, 09:32 AM   #3
edith
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Default Re: Rosie

cheers I missed that one!
I don't know where all the !'s came from except that I normally use itallics and I don't if it's up here as they don't work!
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Old Nov 5 2006, 04:29 PM   #4
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Default Re: Rosie

I loved it and thank you very much Edi, I am still all creeped out by it and holding my new eyes....while looking around for Rosie...LOL.

Edi, you should be doing the writing for the new Outer Limits t.v.show...your stories grab your imagination much the same way theirs do, only yours are truely thought provoking. This story was once again a terrific read, and I enjoyed it immensely. Thank You!!!!!!!
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Old Nov 5 2006, 04:44 PM   #5
edith
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Default Re: Rosie

Thanks!
I haven't heard of Outer Limits- we probably won't get it here on anything but Sky for a long time!
I'm glad you find them thought provoking- they all come from little imaginary problems I make usually from an every day situation or even a word. I'm not trying to sound pretentious or anything- it's probably a disadvantage!
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Old Nov 5 2006, 05:55 PM   #6
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Default Re: Rosie

And the moral of the story is, make sure your robot has been programmed with the Three Laws...
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Old Nov 6 2006, 01:23 PM   #7
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Edi, I wouldn't call it a disadvantage, I would call it GENUIS!!! Keep up the great work, I love reading your stories. Someday maybe I will be collecting your books!!!
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Old Nov 6 2006, 03:03 PM   #8
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Default Re: Rosie

Great story, Edith, had me wondering whether Rosie would really "do it" to her creator
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Old Nov 8 2006, 01:00 PM   #9
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Default Re: Rosie

its a great read. the only thing that seemed off to me was that a grown man giggled. lol maybe a synonym for giggles would work better.

*giggles at the word giggles*
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Old Nov 8 2006, 04:22 PM   #10
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Default Re: Rosie

a giggle is a nervous thing to do.
I couldn't think of another word!
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Old Nov 13 2006, 06:06 PM   #11
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Default Re: Rosie

"chuckled nervously" might work better. I took his giggle as him finding it funny, which didn't make sense as he had been completely missing the humor.

I like the germ of the idea in this one, but think the execution needs a lot of work. It reads pretty choppy, and the final ending of Rosie going beserk and destroying everything comes too fast with not enough explanation as to why/how she's destroying things when I hadn't gotten the impression she had any sort of weaponry or agressive programming. I also think it could be developed a bit more subtly, as I knew as soon as what's-his-name's perfect eyesight was mentioned what the result would be; I think the reader is bashed a bit too much over the head with the perfect optic quest. Probably need a couple red herrings thrown in so the perfect eyesight remark doesn't stand out so much.

Great idea, needs better development.
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