Princess of Amathar – Chapter 24 Excerpt

Princess of AmatharI stepped onto the ledge which looked as though it must have been a landing pad for some type of small air-going vessel. It was about sixty five feet square, and hung down about one hundred feet below the rest of the city. Standing at the edge were the metallic being who was now helping me onto the level surface of the deck, and Noriandara Remontar who was watching warily.
“I started to pull you up,” she explained, “but this thing took the rope from me and did it for me.”
“It looks like an automaton,” I said, using the closest word in the Amatharian vocabulary to robot. The creature stacked the rope neatly near the precipice, and began rolling around on wheeled feet, picking up debris here and there which had blown on to the deck. “It looks like a maintenance man.”
“That is not a man,” she sneered. “It is grotesque.”
“I thought Amatharians were more tolerant of other species. It is probably designed to look something like the Meznarks.”
“Oh it is,” she said. “The Meznarks had three eyes and four arms, just as this thing does. They have legs though and not wheels. It is not the Meznarks that I find so grotesque. It is this artificial representation of them.”
“They probably made their machines look as much like them as possible so that they could feel more comfortable around them.” I suggested.
“They should not be comfortable around them,” replied the Princess. “It is one thing to have a machine as a tool, to enhance one’s abilities. It is another thing entirely to have a machine as a replacement for a person, whether that replaced person is a companion, a coworker, a slave, or a master. It disgusts me.”
I nodded. I had known people who chose to make machines their masters, and it was disgusting, whether the machine was a robot, a computer terminal, or a time clock.
“Perhaps,” I changed the subject, “if there are machines still working here, then there may well be living Meznarks as well.”
“Hmm,” she said, still irked about the robot.
I began looking around for a way to the upper levels from the deck, and was rewarded with a platform on the side opposite where I had been lifted up. This platform was open on all sides but had a small raised control panel in the center of it, and another just beside the platform on the main deck.
“Looks like a down-going room,” I said, using the Amatharian term for elevator.
“Down-going room,” muttered the Princess.

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