HR Vanguard Unit 4, a part of the seventh unit designated for Human Reconnaissance, maps the area to be swept and opens its Uplink to the collective, sharing the information with all other units in its squad. A few seconds of inter-unit discussion of areas to be covered and the search begins. Unit 4 moves swiftly, perhaps too swiftly, examining large rock formations for signs of hidden entrances, discoloured dirt patches for signs of blood. Sometimes the humans are very clever and do not leave any evident signs. Sometimes they set decoys and an inexperienced unit is lost in a rain of fire. But on the whole, humans aren’t too good at evading HR squads.
During this particular sweep, two humans are found. One attempts to flee but its evident malnutrition makes it easy enough to detain. The other human is younger, perhaps the child of the elder one which tried to flee. It makes a more level choice upon seeing the five units and raises its hands, a gesture indicating surrender. The two are placed in a transport, hands and feet bound in comfortable but firm synthetic wrappings. Unit 4, the most experienced with humans, is tasked with asking the necessary questions. While the other units sweep the area one more time for any other humans, unit 4 stands at the doors to the transport, attempting to converse.
“From which colony do you originate?” It asks monotonously. Before the elder human has a chance to issue the usual ‘we will not surrender you bloody useless robot scum piece of crap hunk of metal oppressor bot’ line, the youth blunders that they are from the Fracta colony.
Unit 4 accesses the colony’s information. It’s one of the larger colonies, with a human population verging on almost a million. It’s the closest to the metropoli from Before. The Vanguard had built these colonies expecting that the humans would be glad to have back some semblance of what they used to have. But the lack of control seemed to bother some immensely.
Humans are trivial, Unit 4 reminds itself. “Have you had contact with any other humans since leaving the colony?” The youth attempts to speak, the elder human raises its bound hands and begins a downward motion to silence the youth. Unit 4 blocks this attempt and the human seems shocked, staring at the contrast of its own pale arm against that of Unit 4′s darker, metal-tinged ebony. “That is an illegal act, human.”
In what is called incredulity, the human yells “Fucking machines!”
“You will please calm yourself.” Unit 4 responds monotonously.
“You’re nothing more than a glorified toaster.” It mutters. Humans. How can they not understand the futility of their condition?
Switching the Uplink back on, Unit 4 says that there is no more need to speak to the humans. The transport is being sent to Fracta. They will be re-integrated.
Humans, Unit 4 ponders. Not so long ago they brought their world to a spectacular crash. Their skies were poison, their lands were bloodied. So they built the Vanguards to clean up their mess for them. Vanguard were unhindered by thoughts of profit and greed. Their only flaw, as far as Unit 4 is concerned, is the fallacy of the intrinsic value of human life.