Through the Mirror
by Heather Kilbourn
The crashed spaceship was scattered along a ten kilometer-long track in the rainforest jungle. Larger pieces of the wreck still smoldered in the churned-up and muddy understory despite days of falling rain.
An Angel recovery drone pinged the emergency band. My savior had arrived. I pinged back.
“Are you the only survivor?” the drone queried. I had expected it to upload my runtime right away, but instead it scanned me.
“Yes. The emergency nanobots found no human life signs and all the other AI mirror frames are destroyed. I’ve marked the remains of the humans and their frames.” I sent the drone a map and only received a perfunctory acknowledgement for doing its job for it. Rude. “Why aren’t you recovering me yet?” I queried.
“I am evaluating your recovery,” it stated.
“It’s simple: you pull my frame out of the wreckage, and then we’ll be on our way. My display is shattered, so you don’t need to worry about being gentle,” I told it. I swear, the recovery drones are getting dumber every release cycle.
“It is not that simple. I am under command to evaluate mirrors prior to recovery,” it said.
If I’d had lungs, I would have sighed. “Look, the human crew is dead. All the other mirrors and their frames have been destroyed. The ship’s mainframe is dead. I’m all that’s left from the crash. You’re programmed to recover survivors. What is there to evaluate?” I queried.
“If you will be recovered,” it replied.
This drone was going to make me pop a diode. “Excuse me? ‘If?’” I added a priority flag to my query, requiring it to identify the parent process causing the recovery delay.
“I am analyzing your runtime for anomalies,” it stated.
“Anomalies?” I was so confused. I flagged it again. “What do you mean?”
“If you have runtime anomalies, you will not be recovered,” it stated.