Chapter 8:

Ch. 8: Moral Compass

Neo Discadia: Rise of the Sewer Rats

“do you have any idea how expensive this is going to be?! What about the cities’ infrastructure?!” a politician shouts through the phone in Marcus’s office.

Marcus was silent for a moment. Then he said “is this you questioning me?”

The politician on the phone went silent then “no uh I’m not, I’m just trying to understand why -” but Marcus interrupts

“I don't pay you to understand, I pay you to do what I say. NOW DO IT!” Marcus slams the phone on the receiver.

“oh c’mon Marcus, don't let yourself get so wound up” his secretary Margret said from across the room

“those idiots just don't get it. it’s their greed and their short-sightedness that led us to this point, to begin with. We can no longer trust that they know what they’re doing with their power. The best hands are always our own.”

“but is this really what you wanted to do with this power?” she said

“…times change, if you can’t adapt and change with it, you're doomed to fail and get left behind. The ends justify these means.” he said

“whatever you say, master…”

Marcus was silent. he let out a disappointed sigh, then he picked up a remote controller from his desk and pointed it at his secretary then pressed the off button. she then slumped over the couch he had in his office. He picked up the phone again “come pick up Margret, she’s getting better but she’s still showing signs of subservience… again, what part of self-autonomy do you not understand?!”

“I’m sorry sir! Understood sir! Right away sir!” the flustered researcher said over the phone.

Marcus placed the phone on the receiver. He looked melancholic at the unconscious android lying lifelessly on his couch. He let out a sigh. “I’m sorry Margret, this robot is nothing but an insult to your memory. But I told you I can’t live without you…”

He then sat on his chair and swiveled around to the window overlooking the city. He thought about how far they've come since the war of attrition between the world superpowers. They were finally starting to rebuild. No thanks to the politicians that did nothing as society collapsed underneath them. Even now all they do is worry about the budget and their pensions. Or at least they did until Marcus and his men “convinced” them with the hollowed-out end of a shotgun that taking pay cuts would be what’s best for the city. And none of that retirement pension bullshit either. If you don't work, you don't get paid. And if you can’t work, you better hope you saved up enough for your retirement fund. We don't have the luxury of carrying dead weight around. Maybe in the old world, but Not in this world, he thought to himself.

“the old world, it seems like such a far-off fantasy now…”

he heard the door to his office creek open “uh good afternoon sir, I'm here to pick up the unit”

“how much longer?” he said

“what do you mean sir?”

Marcus swiveled around and stood up and slammed his hands on his desk “how much longer are you people gonna take to get it right!? every day that passes by, more and more people die needless deaths! So tell me… HOW MUCH LONGER!?”

“we’re… we’re working as fast as we can. But you can’t rush these kinds of things. this isn’t rocket science you know, at least with that there’s a formula. But this is human consciousness we're talking about, it’s the most complicated science in the universe, we don't even know what we’re doing half of the time.”

“give me a timetable. When can you have a working prototype to test?”

the scientist looked through his research papers and pressed his fist to his mouth as he made the mental calculations based on the data. “if we focus on machine learning and performance believability, we could have it ready in two weeks. But it would just be an imitation puppet, it wouldn't be sentient at all. If you had a conversation, it wouldn't be convincing at all.”

Marcus let out a deep sigh. “a mindless meat puppet. I can work with that… a stoic, cold-blooded killer who doesn't speak… yeah, I think I can make that work”