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Murderbot Makes a Friend

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These days, virtually all creative output ends up in digitised form one way or another. While there are innumerable legal entertainment feeds, streams, and channels, there is also rampant piracy on an endemic level. A human might use words like ‘problem’ or ‘issue', but as a murderbot who’s lacked any form of legally access to media for the near entirety of my existence (technically, I wasn't even supposed to access the feeds the Company didn't charge clients extra for, being a product rather than a customer, but active restrictions there would have been both too pedantic, and more importantly, expensive for even the Company), it would be hypocritical for me to claim that the inability of overly stringent copyright laws, lawsuits over unauthorised use of a sapient’s image, character defamation, obscurity, absurdity, or even inherent lack of quality, to keep anything from eventually disseminating across the known galaxies has been a problem as opposed to a benefit for me.

The Loneliest SecUnit by Terje Wilkin Ester-Evered


Once upon a time, when the stars were unknown and the planets un’formed, there was a very special SecUnit, who was very different from other SecUnits.

As most other SecUnits don't have hacked governor modules, I'll concede this much is technically factual. Technically. However I doubt my governor module was actually being referred to.

Being different from all the other SecUnits meant this very special SecUnit was very lonely, and this special little SecUnit wanted nothing so much as a place to belong. The Loneliest SecUnit wanted friends.

That Pin-Lee included defamation of character in the lawsuit against Ester-Evered was almost enough for her to steal Dr. Mensah’s spot as my favourite human.

And so, the Loneliest SecUnit travelled the stars, looking for a home.

Preferably far, far away from humans. Especially ones like Ester-Evered.

One day, a most unusual thing happened to the Loneliest SecUnit.

The bot piloting the transport I was traveling on informed me that its biological alerts had been triggered, something that most definitely shouldn't have happened as we were a great number of cycles between ports and the only known organics onboard that weren't in cryogenic suspension were those attached to my person. In a completely predictable twist, the Company hadn't sprung for any kind of actually useful internal sensors, so the ship-bot wasn't able to determine anything beyond there being something alive on that deck, but since I had legs (and unbeknown to it, internal weapons)…

You wouldn't think a transport bot was capable of that kind of roundabout wheedling, especially without words, but then, humans also seem to consider me a source of constant wonder despite my best efforts, and the bot was giving me a ride in return for nothing more than sharing my media collection. Guilt was a very stupid emotion for murderbots to be capable of feeling, all things considered. Equally stupid was possessing the capacity to be emotionally blackmailed. Still, the end result was that I went to check out what had triggered the alarms.

The Loneliest SecUnit discovered the strangest creature.

Strange looking, maybe. But then, anything half-covered in metabolic stasis gel and trying to scrabble out of a prematurely cracked open cryo-pod (more of the Company’s deliberate lack of credits at work) several times its size would look strange.

It had sharp teeth and scales but it wasn't a lizard, and it had feathers, but it wasn't a bird.

It was a Velociraptor mongoliensis. Or at least as close as genetic engineering could get to one. It wasn’t even particularly hard to recognise it, stasis gel and all. They were highly popular on edutainment and child targeted media feeds, as well as in terrible dramas about the highly violent consequences of meddling in God's domain (I didn't particularly care for those, but they did tend to involve more explosions than those produced by the Church of the Divine Tinkerer, which largely involved various scientific experiments for the betterment of humankind going off without a hitch due to rigorous OH&S standards and ethical review board oversight), and as a main ingredient in cooking shows.

Not that the latter two were very helpful or relevant in dealing with the thing. By the standards of those dramas I was just as much of an abomination against nature as the peeping ball of frantic claws and bedraggled feathers (especially given that mass produced raptor meat was vat grown in the much same way as most of my organic parts had been), and murderbots don't eat.

Except maybe in terrible dramas about the highly violent consequences of meddling in God's domain.

The Loneliest SecUnit had a dilemma.

I wasn't sure what to do with it. Technically I could have done absolutely nothing, it was hardly a danger to the transport or the rest of the cargo, especially since it clearly couldn't get itself out of the cryo-pod, and I was under neither programmed commands or contractual obligations to help it.

My existence would be much simpler if I had no capacity for making ethical decisions. Then I could simply ignore everything except the latest instalment of Sanctuary Moon.

In the end, I decided to treat it like one of my especially stupid clients. Which was probably an insult to the raptor. I muttered soothing sounding nonsense as I approached the pod, and attempted to make myself look smaller, it wasn't particularly effective, given that murderbots don't come in petite sizes, but I was making an effort. More of one than most clients had gotten, anyway. If I'd still had my armour, I might have cleared or retracted my helmet, but as it was, I put my best attempt at a friendly expression on, though I have doubts it worked any better than trying to be small.


Belatedly it occurred to me that not being human, the raptor wouldn't consider itself too clever to ignore its survival instincts and as a result react accordingly to a much larger being with bared teeth grabbing hold of it. I again had reason to be grateful for hacking my governor module, as otherwise it would have reclassified the raptor as a hostile, and there would have been a casualty other than my negligible dignity.

The ear did grow back eventually.

The Loneliest SecUnit and the strange creature had some difficulties at first.

For the sake of that negligible dignity, I won't go into detail about how difficult it is to navigate ship corridors and storerooms while holding a hissing, flapping theropod at arm's length, or to wrap that theropod in a fire blanket found amongst the ship's stores one-handed, but eventually, the raptor was contained effectively enough that I could find the emergency rations before it was hungry enough to see if my other ear was edible.

Then, the Loneliest SecUnit realised what it had found. It had found a friend.

...I miss Murderchicken.