Re: Just remember, they don't have souls...
The fun thing is that psychopaths see other humans like that. Maybe they are on to something.
What was Terminus, anyway? An electronically wired box. Hell, anything alive, any living creature would have perished long ago in the wreckage. So now what? Rap out a few questions before his glass eyes? And even if he did that, what would he get out of him? Would they-those dead men-give him a neat and coherent narrative of what happened? Or wouldn't he just hear a lot of screaming and yelling, cries for oxygen, for help… And what was he to tell him? That they didn't exist? That they were only "pseudopersonalities," isolated figments of his electronic brain-an illusion, a case of the hiccups? That the terror of those men was a fake terror, that their death struggle, repeated every single night, had as much meaning as a worn-out record? He recalled the response provoked by his question-that sudden burst of signals, and that cry, so full of shocked bewilderment and hope, and that frantic, urgent, unremitting pleading: "Come in! Who is signaling? Come in!!!"
He could still hear it ringing in his ears, could feel it pulsating in his fingertips: the terrible despair and fury of those banging supplications.
Didn't exist? But then whose voices were those? Who were those people calling out for help? Oh, the experts would have an explanation, all right. They'd blame it on some electrical discharge, on the resonating effect of the vibrating metal. He sat down at his desk, pulled out a drawer, angrily slapped his hand down to keep the papers ￼from fluttering away, fished out the printed form he was looking for, and carefully spread it out before him, pressing it flat so his breath wouldn't disturb it. One by one he began filling in the blanks.
TYPE: Universal maintenance.
NATURE OF DAMAGE: Functional disintegration.
He hesitated, holding the pen up close to the paper, then pulling it away. He began thinking about the innocence of machines, about how man had endowed them with intelligence and, in doing so, had made them an accomplice of his mad adventures. About how the myth of the golem-the machine that rebelled against its creator-was a lie, a fiction invented by the guilty for the sake of self-exoneration.
RECOMMENDATIONS: To be scrapped.
And with a perfectly rigid face, he signed it:
Pirx, first navigator.