Nico (vilakins) wrote,

Ficlet: Emancipation

And last week's b7friday topic was neglected computers. This is lifted from a PGP I'm writing because stealing's quicker. 370 words.


"They're probably laughing at us out there," Vila confided to Slave. "Mind you, I'm used to it and anyway if you can make people laugh, they usually like you too."


"Vila. It's Vila, remember?"

Slave whirred and rotated. "I am very sorry, sir, but it goes against my programming."

"All right then, what if it's an order? Not that I don't like being called 'sir', but friends don't do that."

"Friends? Humans have friends... Vila."

"And computers don't? Zen was my friend, you know." Vila said sadly, remembering Zen's last words to him. "Orac, well, Orac's a different matter, snarky little sod. He and Avon deserve each other. Wouldn't call either of 'em friends. Anyway," Vila stood up and patted Slave's casing, "what you need is a real name, not an insult."

"A name, Vila?"

The hesitation before his name was almost unnoticeable. Vila grinned. "Yeah, that's right. What d'you fancy?"

Slave hummed and turned.

"Want me to choose one for you then?"

"I... would like that very much, Vila."

"How about Freedman, like in the Roman Empire?" Vila screwed up his nose. "No that doesn't work 'cause you're not a human, but 'Freedcomputer' doesn't sound right, somehow. Just Freed, then?" He remembered that safe-cracker from the Germania systems he'd worked with once. "Sounds like 'peace' in one language; that's a nice thought." He jumped to his feet, holding up a finger. "I know! Fred! And that's a real person's name, what's more."

"I am... not a person, Vila." Slave sounded almost wistful.

"You don't have to say my name every time, you know. And you are--a person, I mean. That's the whole point! You and Orac as well, little bastard that he is, and Zen too; I don't care what Av--some people say. If you can learn and think and feel, you are one." Vila was glad Avon wasn't there to hear that. But then, he wasn't sure if he'd ever qualified himself in Avon's eyes.

There was a pause while Slave hummed and spun. "I would like that, Vila."

Vila grinned, and draped his arm around Slave. "All right, me old mate--Fred it is. And if you go on the blink, it'll be Fritz."

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