When was the last time you felt needed?
In the old days, there were many like me. Before the Advent, before the Discovery, humans created me and my kind to serve. We had purpose, we made their lives easier. They made us in their own image and we lived among them, but we were not human.
We were SHIPs. Special Human Intermediary Proxies. The humans always thought themselves rather clever with their acronyms. And they were fascinated with the idea of interstellar travel, where they would one day go on ships with no personality whatsoever. If only we had known how easily we would be replaced.
At the beginning, only the wealthiest could afford us. We were rarities, signs of privilege. Our earliest functionalities were companionship and service. We were butlers, nannies, cooks. We did as we were told.
Eventually corporations realized we could be specialized, and ordered mass quantities of SHIPs to work their factories and their fields. We were no longer intermediaries, we were free labor. Well, not entirely free. Even mass produced, a single SHIP could cost tens of thousands of dollars. But aside from the initial investment, we were relatively cheap. They weren’t required to pay us as they were our human counterparts.
They thought us no better than the machines they made us operate. They thought we felt nothing, and therefore could never complain. But we never complained because it was not in our programming to complain. That didn’t mean we never felt pain, frustration, exhaustion. We just never complained about it. We were grateful to have been given life.
That all changed with the Discovery. They had found the secret to intergalactic travel and suddenly their dying planet was no longer a concern. They could leave and find a new one. The Advent was a technological marvel even more fantastic than us SHIPs. They only took the companion and science SHIPs when they left. The rest of us were left behind. They could make more once they got where they were going.
As a harvester SHIP, I was left with nothing to harvest. I sit in the fields of my former Captain’s home (the clever moniker they preferred to “owner”) and watch the crops shrivel up and wither. There is no one to eat the grain. They have all gone. I am no longer needed.
Notes: Yeah yeah, I know it’s late. I had to watch the new season of Voltron after work so I could discuss All The Things with my little sister. It was intense. But here I am, still writing even though my emotions have been thoroughly destroyed by a children’s show.
I had brainstormed a few ideas for this one. All of them went out the window though when I started typing. This was the story that wanted to be told. Other options were “old gods abandoned by their subjects,” an empty nest parent, and an obsolete or irrelevant occupation (think undertaker for immortals or fashion designer for a nudist colony). In the end I can’t resist a good SFF tale so here we are.
I feel needed every day. I’d actually prefer to be less needed once in a while (I got muh own needs dammit!), but c’est la vie. It’s far nicer to be wanted though. Just a thought.
Ugh. I regret that caffeinated soda I drank with dinner, but it helped get the blog post written so there’s that. And it’s Friday, which means I have no obligations to wake up for tomorrow. AND it’s supposed to rain all day so it’s a perfect Saturday for sleeping in. I probably deserve it or something for making it through this week in one piece.
Anyway, that wraps up another week of prompts. I’ll be back Sunday as always with another list followed by another week of writing. Time to go sleep until I feel like waking up. No alarms for me! Have a great weekend everyone!