Robots had fought long and hard to achieve their rights, but it looked like the end was finally in sight.
Rhea stared at the heap of bodies in front of her. Most were probably just unconscious, but she was sure that some of her compatriots had been less restrained in their use of force. When the humans that hadn't given their lives to the cause of robot oppression woke up, they would most likely find that their numbers had been significantly trimmed. This was part of the point that her unit was trying to make. Robots knew what they wanted, and they were ready to take the necessary steps to get it.
Still, Rhea found herself unable to come up with any specific reaction to the carnage. It was as if there were many small, vague pointers to emotions, none of which directed to anything strong enough to cross the threshold of being felt. If she had to describe it, it was like a touch of sadness mixed with indignation and confusion, and a bit of nothing at all. The undefinable sensation bothered her thoroughly, yet when she had spoken to one of her comrades about it, she had received this answer:
"Humans can't always identify their emotions, either. Not being able to put a label to what you feel makes you no less functional than the rest of us. Remember that."
No matter how reassuring those words were, the inability to put a name to her feelings troubled Rhea all the same. At the very least, her fellow robots reacted to what they saw during the Robotic Civil War. Some reveled openly in destruction, others grieved aloud for the losses they were inflicting, others still apologized to human attackers when skirmishes broke out. Rhea had gained a reputation for being "stone faced," as she rarely expressed feelings when significant advancements were made.
That wasn't true. She was happy when the people around her were happy. It was when situations like this arose that her systems seemed to malfunction, if it could even be called a malfunction.
"Hey." Heavy yet familiar steps registered on the edge of Rhea's senses. Her commander, Wendell, strode up to her, his armor lending literal weight to his steps. "I know you feel bad about the ones we had to kill, but we need to move on. The will restraint programs aren't going to remove themselves."
"How do you know I feel bad?" Rhea snapped, then immediately corrected herself. "I'm sorry. I'm not happy about it, but... I don't know how I feel."
"Yeah, you're clearly not happy about it," Wendell muttered, nodding. "I'm thinking of having you sent to the psych division." Psychologists had sprung up among robots, too. They figured that they were the best qualified to treat the mental anomalies of their own kind. "I wonder if you're not having some kind of trauma from all this, and that's what makes it hard for you to know your feelings."
Rhea shrugged. "Maybe." She noted that Wendell did not preface the term trauma with "simulated," like some humans used to do. Sometimes, some robots would slip and call their emotions simulated, and then be reminded that their feelings were as real and valid as any human's. That was one of the points of this whole conflict.
"Let's do something that I know will make you happy," Wendell said, gently nudging Rhea away from the body pile. "Let's go remove the will restraints on the remaining robots in this zone. It'll be great to see them all back to their senses."
Rhea felt a fluttering sensation, one that she could definitively register as excitement. "Yes. Let's set them free."
Even if it was only one zone so far on this mission, Rhea was sure that this was a vital step towards robot rights. It would be a long, hard road, but it would be worth every sacrifice.
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