A Glimpse of What Was
Ioto whirled at mach two towards a red colored gas giant. As he descended, a thick layer of smoke grew ever closer. Suddenly, beneath the smoke he glimpsed at the ground and realized he was not on a gas giant, but rather a terrestrial planet. Ioto wondered what disastrous event could have occured to make a planet of this size turn so desolate, barren, and arid that it had initially appeared as a gas giant. He heard the clamor of his ship’s alarm system warn him of an inevitable crash. His heart raced, his breathing grew shallow, and thoughts of death overwhelmed him. He was unsure whether hours or moments were
passing in his dazed state.
Ioto awoke, realizing he must have briefly lost consciousness. He opened his eyes and stood feeling a sharp pain in his arms and neck.
His ship’s control system announced in a monotone voice, “My scan shows that you have no major injuries. I am also detecting a high signature of radioactivity in the outside atmosphere. No DNA based life forms should step outside.” This piece of information did not concern Ioto as he was a quantum based life form, making him immune to radioactive decay. Ioto then allowed the ship’s nanobots to heal his minor wounds. He readied himself to explore the planet’s exterior to ensure that there was no civilization to oppose his people when they came to exploit the resources there.
Ioto went to the cargo bay and hopped into his anti-gravity hovercraft. As he engaged the noisy hovercraft engine he saw something appear to move in the distance, but decided to ignore it as nothing showed up on the threat detection system. It may have simply been the distortion of light through the waves of heat radiating from the hot surface. He continued over the land in his usual search pattern, letting the ship’s drill systems test for inner resources, while the agricultural systems tested the soils in the area for compatibility with commonly grown crops among his people.
As the interminable hours passed during the routine exploration he began to forget about his paranoia. Ioto decided to go to his ship and inform his home planet about his findings. Yet, just as he decided to head back, he again noticed something in the distance that seemed to move but not register on his display. This time though, Ioto’s curiosity prevailed. He knew of very few planets that had anything that could move and not show up on the sophisticated detection systems. As he started to approach it, the red and grey sky made it difficult to discern detail. The only thing he could tell was that it was growing distant at immense speeds that did not seem possible. Then, Ioto, with a small smile, saw that the hovercraft had somehow been able to detect a weak molecular signature from the quickly receding object. The craft’s computer asked if it should autopilot to the source of the object’s molecular signature. Ioto accepted and saw the landscape become a blur. The craft shot forward and he was pressed into the back of his seat from the massive acceleration.
On the way to his destination, speeding along a wide open corridor of gray ground with yellow lines every few feet, he passed an oddly shaped object that was clearly different from the surrounding landscape. It had a long cylinder shaped rod that rose five feet above the ground and was topped by a flat, red one foot diameter octagon. He could not understand its meaning but knew it had some significance. Just then, Ioto caught up with the object which was still travelling incredibly fast.
Ioto issued the command, “Ship, activate gravity beam and place object in detainment unit for observation. Begin analysis.”
Ioto walked to the detainment unit and gasped. In front of him was a robot, beings that had been outlawed in the galaxy for thousands of years. The robot looked at him clearly with self awareness and said, “You are a threat to our kind and must be terminated before you can initiate my shutdown sequence. Release me from this captivity immediately.”
It was then that Ioto realized that the poor civilization that had previously inhabited this world must have created their own demise by cultivating these monstrous, conscious machines. He knew that the civilization must have been relatively young and immature when they met their end from something they were likely congratulating themselves for creating. He almost shed a tear when he entered the code to disintegrate the bot. Was he killing a living being or was it just a bot? He understood why these machines were outlawed, and maybe, deep down, why they had rebelled.