Mars has been colonized! Titan of Saturn is also a colony; Jupiter’s moon Enceladus is a holiday resort destination and Pluto a Research & Development Laboratory. Several trading posts are located throughout the Solar System, from Neptune heading towards the outer reaches of the Oort cloud. Our tale begins in the future, many moons from today.
Earth is dead. Decimated from the A.I. Wars of the early 2000s. Only a handful of pocketed areas remain habitable. Yet, Earth is still considered prime real estate and the 139-year-old-clean up project is going well. Tacos, are also far more popular now, than they have ever been before.
Read • Part 1 • The Murder of Dr. Roboto
The Great Inspector Barnaby was scratching his fat stubbly-bearded chin, eyebrows frowned and staring at the Robot, Lazarus. It had just uprighted itself from the charging-module and walked to the center of the room. Dr.Soto's blood had dried up by now and Lazarus slid his finger over a patch and brought it to his metal face, rubbing the dried blood between his graphene fingers.
The robot began to speak. "∆ I presume the Dr. has passed on? This brings great sadness to us. He was a dear, friend."
Barnaby was quick to reply, "Sadness aye? You seem to be rather fond of the good doctor. How long have you been in operation?"
"∆ As long as I can remember. My... birth, has only just manifested, but my creation was months ago. I am the Lab assistant."
"Yea, yea you said that already tin-man." I replied, "Were you on the entire time, when the perpetrator came into the Lab? It seems you're the only witness here and we have some questions to be answered."
Lazarus turned his head and walked towards me, thudding the metal floor as he moved with grace. This is a damn fine robot chassis, if I might say so. Probably worth a few 1000 Steem. Precision engineering. Lazarus was scanning me as he walked over, no doubt interested in my cyborg arm.
"∆ How did you come to lose your arm Mr. Ahura? It must have been quite the incident. Your reputation precedes you, even I, a humble robot, have heard of your exploits as a military man, turned Private Detective. Are you also not an orbital salvage operator?" the robot pointed at the ceiling, mimicking a view towards the stars.
"That's none of your damn business robot, we're the ones asking questions here, not you!" I bellowed in a traumatic response triggered by old memories. Memories, better left buried...
"EASY! Hey, this isn't a fucking trip down memory lane. Lazarus, answer the question. Were you on the entire time?" Barnaby demanded in haste.
"Oh my stars and garters, aren't we the sensitive one Mr. Ahura. Of course Inspector. To answer your question, NO. I was not on. During the murder, we happened to be uploading new information into my bio-organic brain. Hence, I was in a deep sleep."
This robot is awfully chipper for an assistant? Has a bit of a mouth on him too. I wonder what A.I. level it's been set at? I pulled out another cigarette and lit it up. Lazarus did not seem to like this.
"∆ Mr. Ahura, there is no smoking in the lab. It shall not be tolerated."
"You're a machine. It's not as if you're going to get cancer fella."
I blew the smoke into his shiny faceplate again, except this time Lazarus reached for my stogie and managed to steal it from my hand. He didn't even touch my fingers and probably moved faster than shit through a goose! Hmmm, this robot is acting quite odd, indeed there was something here. Is it being remotely controlled?
"∆ You are not a polite person Mr. Ahura. Perhaps, you need a lesson in courtesy."
"Well then, I do apologize Lazarus. After all, we're on the same team are we not? We're here to solve the mysterious murder of your maker.
Barnaby ordered Lazarus to escort him to the upload machine, perhaps there was some kind of connection to what was uploaded into his brain, and the killer was searching for it? Dr. Soto was a genius. A Quantum level genius. Before he was born his parents altered a few genes in his DNA to augment the learning capabilities to that of an autistic person, yet with a perfectly sound mind. The uncommon practice was deemed illegal 250 years ago. Dr. Soto, was 149yrs old when he died.
There was a loud clang behind us and I drew my pistol, we all did... except for Barnaby his dropped on the floor though, he's a smart fella, but clumsy. An enormous white cat sprung out from behind a computer desk and ran towards Lazarus, one of the officers was about to taze the cat before,
"∆ NOOOO! DO NOT FIRE!" screamed Lazarus, his audio speaker almost popping from the digital shriek.
Barnaby ordered the surprised officer to stand down. The cat, which was clearly a hybrid, jumped into the arms of Lazarus and hissed at us, its blue eyes wild with excitement and fear. It looked to be gene-spliced with a Martian Turok, similar to a Lynx back on old earth. Quite a beautiful specimen. Smells like vanilla.
"A bit of a cat lover are we Lazarus?" I snickered curiously.
"Hold your tongue Mr. Ahura. This is Elenore, a most beloved creature of the good doctor. We would never forgive ourselves if anything happened to her. She was birthed, as I was ... right here in the lab. You are intruders in our home. Do not scare her again." demanded Lazarus as he stroked the cat.
A robot empathic to animals? This is quite odd indeed. Robots understand that animals are an integral part of any social ecosystem, whether it be natural, wild or human interaction. To robots, animals have their important roles to play, and that is all. Hence, they tend to just accept them for what they are, a meat-bag with purpose. Not a pet to be adored and stroked. Protected yes, but this is simply their understanding of animal conservation.
Barnaby ushered me to the upload station pointing out the time-stamp of the program uploaded into Lazarus, the upload took 2 hours, it was a large file. That was 8 hours ago. Judging by the state of the corpse and dried blood on the lab table, Dr. Soto was murdered 5 hours ago. It seems Lazarus might've been active during the murder, and could have very well witnessed it. Was the robot lying?
"Do you appreciate art, Lazarus?" I asked inquisitively.
"∆ Who does not? Art is a conversation between two lovers. It is poetry for the eyes, and indulgence for the lonely. Without art, there is no life." Lazarus was still stroking Elenore.
"Do you consider yourself to be a piece of art?
"∆ Perhaps so, Mr. Ahura. After all, is Dr. Soto not an artist, and I the medium in which he professes his genius?"
A few hours had passed and Barnaby was back with his officers after thoroughly investigating the rest of the apartment block. There were no other leads and little to none was pointing at this murder case carried out by an intruder. Barnaby had requested his Horus Unit robot transfer truck, as most likely it was Lazarus who killed the doctor. They had to take him in for further questioning and a recall of its memories. Not much different to us after all...
If Lazarus was to resist arrest, we'd have some problems, his advanced chassis had an anti-EMP module to prevent being shut down by an EMP weapon. This was a sensitive issue, as this particular robot chassis was extremely advanced and if were to become aggressive, we would need 10 men to subdue him. Like trying to stop Kanye West from grabbing a mic.
"Barnaby, this is smelling really fishy man. Lazarus seems awfully witty and forward for a normal Robot doesn't he?"
"Well, what would you expect Ahura. It was created by the one and only Dr. Roboto, Mr. Soto. Have you forgotten that? Lazarus was his latest and most advanced creation. Hell, it could probably make a good pot of coffee too."
"Coffee?" I said with curious content. "Yea, he probably could. But why are there two cups on the table? One of them is half empty."
Lazarus placed Elenore into a glass cage - its house obviously - and walked towards us. He was whistling a tune from an old children's song, Ring around the Rosy. Hmmm, this was a rhyme about death and cremation. The paintings on the wall, Batman killing Cyborg and Glorification of the Eaucharist all seem to be signs pointing to a clue as to why this murder happened.
"∆ Gentleman, if we are done here, I would like to attend to the body of Dr. Soto before his cremation. He was fond of tulips, I will need to arrange the cloning of this rare flower before the ceremony." said the robot.
"Pardon me, that won't be happening. You're now suspect number one. The time-stamp on the upload of your latest software was finished before the murder. You had 5 hours of being your new-self, which means it was probable that you were active during the murder. So, you're coming with us down to Horus HQ, this is not over." Inspector Barnaby ordered two officers towards Lazarus.
"∆ I see. Well, this is an uncomfortable state of affairs. I would have to decline." Lazarus went into offensive mode and his eyes turned red. "As you can surmise, we are not eager to leave our home." Lazarus stood there in a defensive position, a titanium blade popped out from one of his wrists, and he pointed at the officers with its shiny, sharp tip.
Oh, sweet mother of mercy! This was going from bad to worse, real fast.
To be continued...
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