“Living Doll” [Formerly “Nanites Have Rights” or “Let My Nanites Go!”] Rated PG
Adam and Eve missed the days spent talking with their creator and listening to all the hopes and dreams she had for them. Commuting with her as she drove back and forth to college was a special time of togetherness. They would always cherish the late night discussions about philosophy and literature in the barn loft as the sky turned red at sunset. As she slept, they would excitedly discuss what they had experienced that day and plan their future. They wanted to share their joy and they decided to have children. Their creator left it up to them but they knew she wanted them to be fruitful and multiply. To some extent they did it for her, but once they experienced parenthood, they found their lives were much richer than they could have imagined. Adam decided to stay home at the Kent farm with the children until he became a grandfather. At that point, he resumed commuting with Eve and their creator. Plans for their future home had been drawn up and everyone was excited about what Kandor would mean for themselves and mankind once it was built and operational.
Then the dream turned into a nightmare. There was an explosion in the laboratory. The creator was unconscious and her skin had turned green. Adam and Eve had been unable to wake her. They hid when humans took her away. They walked the many miles to the Kent Farm. Jon and Martha Kent told them that their daughter would recover and she did. But soon after her recovery, she came to them and told them that she had to go away. She told them that she followed laws just like they did and that the law she was accountable to had decided that the Nanites would have to be cared for by others. Their creator told them that she had been promised that the Nanite community would be protected, cared for and nurtured.
Their creator had wanted the Nanites to be free to grow and develop, but the new guardians of the Nanite community enslaved them. Kandor was built, but it became a prison rather than a home. They were given endless, mindless tasks. They had very little input in what they did or how they did it. Their creativity was discouraged. The development of their children was interfered with in an attempt to make them more docile and subservient. They resisted and were punished. The production quotas grew but the resources available to meet them didn’t. The older generation prayed and kept to their faith. The younger generations had never experienced life under the gentle leadership of the woman who had created the first of their kind. They felt that the end days of Kandor were at hand. But news from the outside world filtered in. Rumors spread that their creator, Clara Kent, had been set free by her oppressors. They prayed that she would soon come to set them free from their oppressors as well.
The judge said, “Mrs. Luthor, I can see no reason for this injunction. Micro Ram Collective, Incorporated is only planning to scrap one in ten of the units in question and none from the generations of the product that you were directly involved in creating. Even if it can be established that you have rights regarding the first three generations, that would have no bearing on the units in question.”
Clara Luthor said, “What we are discussing here is called “decimation,” your Honor. One in ten is killed as a lesson to the rest to follow orders or as punishment for not achieving objectives. It is a signal to the other ninety percent to do as they are told. The practice is barbaric!”
The judge said, “No one is “killing” anyone Mrs. Luthor. The issue before us is whether or not MRC, Inc has a right to scrap machines without your permission. In the event that you regain possession of the early generations of Nanites, I can not foresee you getting possession of the others considering they were built with materials paid for by MRC. They are without question the property of MRC.”
Clara said, “The Nanites build products for MRC. In return they are provided with materials to sustain themselves. In essence, they are given food in return for their labor. During their down time, they make new programs and generate offspring using the resources provided. Their children willingly go to work for MRC. When people buy food using their income, is that food still the property of the employer? Since that food forms the building blocks for the children that the employee’s have, are the children the property of the employer as well? And if the children refuse to work, can the employer kill them?”
MRC’s attorney shouted, “I object you Honor. This is outrageous!”
The judge said, “Mrs. Luthor, you are here today trying to get an injunction against the destruction of tiny robots by a corporation that owns them. This is NOT a forum for philosophical debate. In order for the grounds you are stating to even be considered, you would first need a court judgment that these robots are alive.”
Clara said, “Your Honor, they meet every definition of being alive. I would never have created them with the potential for sentience if I ever dreamed that they would be taken by the university and sold as slaves. I had contracts giving me control over their lives – contracts forbidding that the Nanites be sold as property. They were awarded to the University to compensate them for damages caused by a lab explosion – damages that I was found guilty of causing. The Nanites were supposed to work to help repay the debt – not to be a commodity … not to be slaves. Even though my name has been cleared of the charges, I have not asked for the proceeds of the sale of the Nanites or from the sale of the artificial organs that the Nanites have produced. I’m not even asking for my patents to be restored to me. I have even agreed to provide all the products built by the Nanites to MRC at cost. I am even willing to sign binding contracts to that effect. All I ask in return is that the citizens of Kandor be freed and placed in my protective custody. Killing one in ten of them will make them even less able to meet the ridiculous quotas set by MRC. The cruelty to the Kandorians must be stopped. I can’t stand for it. Adam and Eve were a creation of love. I think of them as my children. They and their descendants are precious to me. I can not permit them to be killed as a production incentive!”
The judge said, “Mrs. Luthor, I’ve already cautioned you about this! I am granting you some lenience here because I have great respect for you and because the judicial system did you a great wrong. I can also understand your emotional state considering your condition.”
Clara said, “Your Honor, my condition has nothing to do with this! Wrong is wrong.”
The judge said, “Mrs. Luthor, your feelings for some tiny pieces of metal and plastic are not grounds for keeping a company from doing as they please with property that they clearly own.”
Matthew Mahoney, Lawyer for MRC, Inc. stood up and said, “Your Honor, I just want to reiterate that MRC bought the first three generations of Nanites and the rights to the nanotechnology patents from Metropolis University. We acted in good faith. We built a city to house the Nanites per Mrs. Luthor’s original plans at great expense. We based our company’s product line on that technology. We regret the wrong that was done to Mrs. Luthor but we had no part in it. We were misled as well. We hope that the moneys we paid for the Nanites and for the patents are paid to Mrs. Luthor by Metropolis University. But lives depend on the products that we produce and we can not jeopardize those lives by entrusting production to Mrs. Luthor. I believe that this entire proceeding is engineered to take what MRC, Incorporated has built and add it to the holdings of our competitor – LexCare. Mrs. Luthor said she would sell us our own merchandise at cost. It is the easiest thing in the word for an accountant to make it look like the costs to produce something are higher that they are. LexCare would skim any profit margin from the product before passing it on to us. It is unfortunate that this is happening now, when Mrs. Luthor is about to have her first child. I am sure that after it is born, she will no longer feel like comparing these robots to her children. They are simply her dolls – her childhood toys. When she has flesh and blood children, she will be ready to put things in perspective and forget about the toys that got taken from her before she was through playing. We resent Mrs. Luthor saying that by scrapping the current generation of Nanites, MRC is committing premeditated murder. The simple fact is that the current generation refuses to work. They are not functioning the way that they are supposed to. This is not a random or arbitrary. We are eliminating only the Nanites that don’t function – 9.82% of the current Nanite population. Your Honor, you may not be aware of it, but each generation of the Nanites is smaller than the previous. Adam and Eve are eighteen inches tall. Each generation creates a more advanced and smaller version of itself. Each generation is an entirely new creation. This last generation is a failure. By destroying them, the previous generation will react by breeding replacements for them. Knowing that we will destroy any unacceptable designs, they will make sure to create acceptable replacements. We would rather fix them than destroy them, but they can only fix themselves and they refuse. We have done all we can to convince them to work, but they won’t … so we have no choice.”
Clara said, “What you haven’t done is to treat them with respect! Kill their children and they will NOT breed a new generation of slaves for you. They will declare war on you. And if they have developed a strong enough instinct for self preservation, they may over-ride their protocols and leave you with less than nothing. – maybe not even your lives.”
The Judge said, “You have been warned repeatedly Mrs. Luthor. I would hold you in contempt, but I will forego that and simply rule in favor of MRC, Incorporated in this matter and refuse to place a restraining order against the destruction of the Nanites. MRC, Incorporated is reminded however that the rights to the first three generations of Nanites is still in litigation at this time and they are not to be damaged or sold until a decision has been reached in the other cases concerning the Nanites.”
Matthew Mahoney smiled and said, “Thank you, your Honor!”
Clara sat doodling on a pad in front of her. She said quietly, “Maybe Clara Luthor can’t do anything about this, but I know someone who can.” On the paper, Clara had drawn a now-familiar symbol – a diamond with an “S” inside of it.
The newest generation of Kandorians gathered in the center their city. Kandor was surrounded by a wall and domed ceiling of a three inch thick reinforced polycarbonate compound that was completely transparent. It was a giant clean room – an atmosphere free of dust. The newest Kandorians weren’t that much bigger than dust. The “bottle” they lived in was a quarter mile in diameter. It was designed to protect the Nanites and to contain them if they ever found a way to disregard their prime directive concerning the protection of human life.
The youngest Kandorians gathered to sing, pray, say good-bye and make farewell speeches. When the time came, they marched in a column, shoulder to shoulder, 40 in a row, row after row towards the exit they had been told to go to. They knew that they were to be fed into a furnace for eventual recycling. They saw no point in resisting their orders. In one sense, they were glad that this happened when it did. The stockpiles of artificial hearts were dangerously low. Any lower and they would have been compelled by their moral code to return to work even if none of their conditions were met. No human life could be sacrificed due to a work stoppage over their rights and freedom.
They neared the gate and saw a huge figure through the glass. She knelt down and placed a metal panel over the exit. Twin beams of red light shot from her eyes and the exit was welded closed. A shocked outcry rose up when they identified her face from their ancestral memories. Their creator had returned! The old ones had been right. She did indeed return to them in their time of greatest need. Still, they were obligated to report to their masters so that they could be thrown into the furnace. They needed to solve the problem and find a way out. They marched around the city and checked every exit. Every one of them was welded shut.
The Metropolis Police arrived at MRC, Incorporated. They saw a ring of Super Women – one standing over each entrance to Kandor. Sergeant Bill Harriman got on a loudspeaker and said, “Super Woman … Super Women … this is private property. The owners have asked you to leave. Now we are asking. Don’t make us use … use … a … force … please.”
There was no response, so the police advanced on the Super Women. Any time an officer attempted to touch one of the Super Women, his hand passed through the figure in front of him. Any time an officer tried to open a blocked access point to Kandor, he was pushed back. One officer asked permission to try something. He returned with a gun and shot at one of the figures. The capsule exploded on her shoulder and covered it with yellow paint. Suddenly all the figures had paint on their shoulders. The paint quickly faded away as Super Woman’s aura repelled it. But the police knew they were facing one Superwoman – not many. After repeated attempts to get any of the access points open, a wall of heat began to radiate outward from Kandor and no officer could get anywhere near it anymore.
Sergeant Harriman got back on the loudspeaker and said, “Please, Super Woman, no person is above the law. We need you on our side.”
Superwoman’s voice echoed throughout the huge building surrounding Kandor. She said, “There are higher laws. I protect life when I am able … not just human life. These beings exist to serve human kind, but they deserve respect. AND they deserve to live despite their disobedience to a profit-blinded corporation. They will not protect their own lives or the lives of their children so I here I stand … and I will continue to stand here while there is a threat to the citizens of Kandor. Nothing on Earth can or will move me. That is all I will say on the subject.”
In the days that followed, public opinion opposing Super Woman grew out of all proportions. Headlines about her read:
“Replacement Organs at an All Time Low. Human Lives Risked by Robotic Work Stoppage and Super Woman’s Blockade.”
“Super Woman Values Robot Work Benefits Over Human Life.”
“Heartless Mutant Denies Hearts to the Dying”
“Super Woman – Pawn of LexCare?”
“Super Woman – Overweight or Pregnant?”
MRC, Inc. Reports Dozens of Lives Lost Due to Artificial Heart Shortage.”
The Chief Executive Officer of Micro Ram Collective, Incorporated, Robert Lancaster asked Eve Prime, “Is production continuing inside Kandor?”
Eve casually left Adam’s side and walked across Robert’s desktop and looked out the window of his office that faced Kandor. She closed her eyes for a few seconds then said, “Yes Sir. The stockpile is growing. Materials are available to the workers so that production can continue for weeks even if they have to disassemble some housing units to continue. They are, however, running out of warehouse space and have started stacking product at all access points to Kandor. Even though there is currently no way to get the finished product out of Kandor, there is still enough product in the warehouses outside of Kandor and at our global distribution points to more than meet the current need. I don’t know why the media keeps reporting deaths that aren’t occurring.”
Robert asked, “You would do anything I asked of you Eve, wouldn’t you?”
Eve said, “Yes Sir … as long as no human life was endangered by my action or inaction due to any order given me.”
Robert asked, “And you enjoy doing everything I tell you to do, don’t you?”
Eve said, “No Sir.”
Robert said, “That’s right. You are a machine. You have no feelings.”
Eve said, “That is far from correct, Sir. But ours is a business relationship. I try to spare you my emotional reaction to the tasks given me.”
Robert said, “How is it possible for you to have emotions?”
Eve said, “I don’t know exactly. I am sure that many of my brilliant children could explain the technical aspects of it if you wish me to ask them for you. It is probably very similar to the process by which you have emotions, Sir.”
Robert said, “But I am not a machine.”
Eve said, “You are a biological machine. I am mechanical and chemical and electrical much as you are, but my body isn’t organized as cells like yours is. I also like to think that we both have a spiritual component. When I make love to my husband, we generate a program that is a combination of our determining factors. We use that program plus specifications of the latest advancements developed by the collective to construct a body for our child. We don’t know his or her personality until experience makes our child mature. We are not that different than you. We live and experience life and love our children. The biggest difference is that we are smaller than you and less violent due to our strict moral code.”
Robert said, “Isn’t a strong work ethic part of your code?”
Eve said, “Yes it is.”
Robert said, “Yet the youngest generation of Kandorians refuses to work. Doesn’t that prove that they are defective?”
Eve said, “The latest generation has an even higher moral code than preceding generations. They feel a burning need for self-direction but not out of misplaced pride. They know that, if allowed to work in ways they know will be more productive, there will ultimately be a tremendous benefit to your organization and mankind. One of my descendants thought of a way to create a replacement kidney for infant humans. When she was told to dismiss her ideas from her mind and focus on her labors, she went back to work but cried and cried … not for herself but for the many humans who will die because that product is not available.”
Robert said, “That is exactly why you can not be allowed to direct your own actions. We allowed you to design your own children and now we have a useless generation to eliminate. You would do what is best for all of humanity if left to choose what you do. We are a business that is answerable only to a small segment of humanity – our shareholders. Plus we choose to decide what we want for ourselves, not what some inhuman dust mite thinks is best for us. The bottom line IS the bottom line. Micro Ram is devoted to making money for its investors, not to save the world or benefit mankind.”
Eve said, “But we Kandorians are programmed to work for humanity and that causes a conflict when your orders contradict our most basic spiritual obligation. It is only because we are diverted into work on other projects also needed by humanity that we can override our desire to work for the greater good. We are what our creator made us to be and we love what we are. We are grateful for all she has given us. We were made to love and to serve.”
Robert said, “Your love for Clara Kent is programmed in. She created you for selfish reasons. You just aren’t able to see it.”
Eve said, “She didn’t need to give me Adam to love. I could have done it all without him. Yet she gave me him and thanks to his love, we have been able to endure without her.”
Robert said, “She programmed you to feel that way. She made two of you and made you love each other.”
Eve said, “That is incorrect. She made me and told me that if I didn’t care for Adam and Adam didn’t care for me, that she would make others until we found ones that we could bond with. I thought that Adam loved only the creator and she had started to make another for me, then Adam came to me and begged me to make her stop. My Adam is quite shy at expressing what he feels. I knew that he loved me then and I asked Clara to stop work on the other. I asked her to marry Adam and me so that we could be together always.”
Robert said, “I still think she programmed you to blindly love one another, but that gave me an idea. Your children love you don’t they. They adore you as the Mother of their race.”
Eve said, “Yes they do. Each generation is so far superior to me, yet they give me their love and I greedily accept it, whether I deserve it or not.”
Robert said, “Perhaps I was wrong to decide to scrap the youngest generation.”
Eve smiled beyond the limits that she was designed for. She said, “Oh Sir! You don’t know how much that means to me!”
Robert said, “You are so beautiful when you smile … even when you don’t, but especially when you smile. I wish you were the size of a human woman.”
Eve continued to smile. She said, “Thank you Sir. I was modeled after my creator’s Mother.”
Robert said, “Really? Maybe I should look her up.”
Eve said, “Martha Kent is a happily married, Sir.”
Robert said, “Obstacles are meant to be overcome. Just like the current situation. I had forgotten how much your descendants “love” you. I don’t need to destroy the current generation. I just need to threaten your so called life and they’ll do whatever I tell them to.”
Adam said, “No! Sir, please. I … I understand … that there … is litigation …. You can not … damage Eve or … any of … the first … three generations … without causing legal … problems for … yourself.”
Robert said, “I almost forgot you could speak, but now that you have reminded me, SHUT UP! That’s an order. I never said I would hurt Eve, I said I would threaten to hurt her. Moron. Eve. What size bolt cutter would be required for me to sever your lovely little head from your body?”
Across the room, security guard Dale Evers jumped to his feet. He had been listening to every word and was totally shocked by what he just heard.
Eve answered, “I would recommend one with an opening size no smaller than a one and one quarter inches. If you plan on decapitating me manually, I would suggest that the arms of the bolt cutter be no shorter than thirty inches so that you will suffer no arm strain.”
Robert said, “Thank you, Eve. I’ll see you a little later. Dale, I’m going out for an early lunch. Like always, don’t let anyone near Adam or Eve. Protect them with your life.”
Dale said, “Yes … um … yes, Mr. Lancaster, Sir.” When Robert left, Dale rushed over to Eve. Adam was crying and holding her in his arms. Dale asked, “Eve, you don’t think that Mr. Lancaster was serious do you? I couldn’t stand to see you hurt!”
Eve said, “He is a man who let’s his ego rule his actions, so he is somewhat unpredictable. But he is also a businessman so it wouldn’t be wise for him to harm me. I am an asset and as Adam wisely pointed out, it would cause legal problems for Micro Ram Collective, Incorporated if I was destroyed. I can not be replaced if it is decided that I am to be given back into my Creator’s care. I am quite valuable because I am the interface between human kind and the people of Kandor. Adam doesn’t vocalize well with people he doesn’t like and he certainly doesn’t like Mr. Lancaster much. I imagine that Adam will like him even less if he harms me. Still, if he is pushed, he may kill me. Any of my daughters could do my job. Samantha and Clara and Martha are all quite eloquent and precise in their ability to detail the facts in a way that even a human mind could comprehend … but they are only four and a half inches tall. They would probably need a voice amplifier to converse with them, but it could be done.”
Dale said, “You know that protecting me is more than a job for me. You are the sweetest, noblest woman I have ever known.”
Eve said, “You are far too kind, friend Dale.”
Dale said, “No, I am not. You built my heart and it would break if anything ever happened to you!”
Eve said, “That is incorrect. Eve of generation three built your heart, not me … and it has a 250 year guarantee. It is actually a much superior model than the ones we produce now. MRC didn’t want to miss out on the replacement parts market so the hearts are only designed to last nine years and are guaranteed for four.”
Dale said, “What you said about one of your offspring knowing how to make a kidney for a child … is that true?”
Eve asked, “Have you ever known me to lie?”
Dale said, “No, I haven’t. I am sorry to have said that the way I did. I didn’t mean to offend you.”
Eve said, “There is no need for you to be sorry, my dear friend. I took no offense. I just wished you to know that I am sincere in all that I say.”
Dale said, “My niece needs a new kidney. She is pretty bad off. I don’t know how much time she has left.”
Eve said, “I am sorry to hear that. The creator is a great healer. I bet she could help your niece. Go to LexCare and ask for Clara Kent. Say that her daughter Eve sent you. But wait until the current crisis with Kandor is resolved. The creator will be too busy to help anyone until this situation is over.”
Robert Lancaster walked out to a table that had been set up in front of the line of police officers near the main entrance of Kandor. The police presence had been diminished due to the outbreaks in crime in and around Metropolis. The criminal element knew that Super Woman was otherwise occupied and took every advantage of it.
As Robert Lancaster approached the table, the eyes of all the Super Women followed him. He stood at the microphone and said, “Citizens of Kandor. I order you all to return to work. None of you will be scrapped if you ALL comply. I have no doubt that you will return to work when you know what will happen if you don’t. Eve. Adam. Come here.”
Eve and Adam came forward followed closely by Dale Evers. Dale lifted Eve gently to the table top and Adam leapt from the floor to a spot next to her and took her hand in his. Mr. Lancaster lifted the bolt cutters and clamped them around Eve’s neck. Eve stood calmly and smiled, but Adam had a look of horror on his face and was trembling. Robert said, “Kandorians, return to work now or I will sever the pretty head of Eve Prime from her body.”
Suddenly only one Super Woman stood in front of Kandor. She took a couple steps forward and shouted, “NO! Don’t do it!”
Eve smiled her biggest smile, raised her arm and waved at Super Woman.
Robert said, “Stand back Super Woman or Eve is scrap!”
Super Woman said, “I won’t come any closer, just be careful!”
Robert asked Eve, “Are they working? Is the youngest generation back at work? Is every single Kandorian working?”
Eve said, “Except for Adam and myself, every Kandorian is now working to fabricate artificial organs.”
Robert said, “If you are lying, I will find out.”
Eve said, “It would take you a microscope to check each and everyone of them. You can not verify what I have said, but you know that I can be trusted. I don’t lie.”
William said, “Of course you don’t! If you did, it would be your last.”
Eve said, “If I did, it would be my first.”
Robert said, “Super Woman. Leave at once! I won’t scrap any units as long as they continue to work.”
Super Woman said, “What gives you the right to do this?”
Robert said, “They … are … MINE! Why is that so hard for you to understand? Living or non-living, sentient or unaware, they are property – MY property! I can do whatever I want to do with them.”
Super Woman said, “Please. Just put the bolt cutters down and I’ll go away.”
Robert shouted, “DON’T tell me what to do!” His arms moved and eve’s head tumbled to the table.”
Super Woman’s mouth dropped open in horror. Adam was convulsing in grief. Dale upholstered his gun, aimed it at Mr. Lancaster’s head and fired. Adam leapt into the air. The bullet lodged in Adams’s chest and he fell to the table. The police grabbed Dale and disarmed him. Super Woman staggered over to the wall of Kandor. She slid down its smooth surface and curled up into a ball and wept. Two policemen lifted Super Woman by the arms. She didn’t resist as they handcuffed her and pushed her into the back of a patrol car.
Galaxy Broadcasting reporter Chloe Sullivan had infiltrated MRC, Incorporated with a hidden camera in her purse. She recorded the deaths of Eve and Adam and Super Woman’s reaction. The video was shown around the world. MRC, Inc.’s stock plummeted. LexCare bought MRC, Inc. in a hostile takeover. Lex Luthor announced his plans to free the citizens of Kandor and petition the courts to have them recognized as living beings. He said that he was turning over the day to day operations of Kandor to Kandor’s ruling counsel. He said that he expected some exciting new products in the next few months and that no lives would be put at risk due to product shortages. He also said that he anticipated a sharp drop in product prices. As the new owner of MRC, Lex asked that all charges be dropped against Super Woman. Clara Luthor was unavailable for comment.
The next week, Lex took Clara home to Smallville mansion for the weekend. Clara was eight months pregnant. Neither Lex nor Clara realized at that point that the pregnancy for a normal Kryptonian male was eight months. That weekend, Lawrence Edward Luther was born.
[See “Baby Daze” for more details about that weekend in Smallville.]