“Friendly people are very friendly, aren’t they?” I commented cheerfully, trying to be conversational but not doing a very good job of it. I was after all only a malfunctioning broken-down old android, trying to pass myself off as belonging – very roughly, in some kind of a way – somewhere more-or-less recognizable within the human sphere of things. If I could appear even half-way human that would be good enough for me. That would be something, at least…
“Friendly people are very friendly,” I ventured again but there was no one there – my sensors had been damaged by the last hadron storm. They were reporting on phantoms. Maybe people no longer exist, I thought after a while, either of the friendly or unfriendly variety. Certainly there had been an awful lot of the unfriendly type, in the not-too-distant past. The universe had been swarming with them.
I sighed silently. Perhaps it was for the best if the human race no longer existed, I said to myself after a while. They had been a mixed blessing at the best of times. Perhaps they had all destroyed each other in the last war – it had only been a matter of time before this happened, after all. All they had ever done was fight, and exploit less powerful species. It left me in a bit of a predicament all the same – seeing that the whole purpose of my existence was to pretend to be one of them. What good was my (admittedly impaired) ability to mimic human kind if there were no more humans left to mimic? Copying humans was all I knew how to do…
“Friendly people are very friendly, aren’t they?” I remarked brightly, suddenly woken up out of my reverie. A man had just walked into the empty bar where I had been sitting. He was wearing sentient nanotech body armour that had obviously been badly damaged by viruses. He looked exhausted, and was only able to walk in a impaired fashion. He was a soldier. He looked surprised to see me. “Yes they are indeed, my friend,” he replied with a smile after a moment, “they are indeed…” My mimetic circuits clicked slowly into action and I attempted to approximate my appearance to various images that I had taken out of his mind. I was trying to put him as ease by looking like someone he knew and had positive feelings towards.
The man’s face broke into a lopsided, pain-filled grin. “You look like someone I used to know,” he said in a croaky voice, “a good buddy of mine…” He looked sad then, “It’s good to come across a friendly face in this hell-hole” he told me. He had obviously been injured quite badly. He would probably die quite soon, I estimated. Probably within the next ten to fifteen minutes. We looked at each other, neither of us speaking for a while. It sounded rough outside. It sounded as if the planet were in the process of being slowly but surely taken to pieces.
My mimicry circuits were powering up properly now – the damage that I had sustained earlier seemed to have been repaired. I quickly probed the soldier’s memories and took out the information I needed to create a simulation of an earlier, happier phase of his life, and uploaded his personality matrix into it. I had captured the information only just in time – the planet had now ceased to exist. We were sitting facing each other over a table in a simulated version of the bar where we had met on the now defunct planet. The soldier had come back to life again. His armour was intact and he was no longer fatally injured. He was no longer exhausted. There was no longer any war. Neither of us spoke for some time – the man was obviously trying to process what had just happened. Then all of a sudden he leaned over the table towards me, laughter-lines appearing as if by magic at the corner of his eyes, and he surprised me by clapping me heartily on the shoulder. “Friendly people are very friendly, aren’t they?” he said, with a mischievous wink of his eye.