Okay, content warning, I creeped myself out.
“Kelly, he’s a person, he’s not a robot, you can’t just – Kelly, what are you doing?”
“So there’s this line of – okay, they’re not robots, but they’re programmed, aren’t they? They’re the Zero-One-Seven line out of Detroit, and they’re, ah, They’re beautiful, for one.” Kelly gestured at the man in question, a handsome, tall, twenty-something dressed in a simple tunic and pants that looked too sterile and antiseptic for the city street. He smiled back, a wooden expression that did not reach his eyes. “And they have an exploit in them.”
“Kelly,” Susan repeated, “he’s a person. People don’t have – they don’t have – really?”
“Really. And the thing is, he wasn’t purchased – there’s this loophole, you can’t actually buy a person, even someone from on of the programmed lines.”
“Good! Good, Kelly, that’s awful.”
“But indentures are still legal.” Kelly stroked the back of the man’s neck affectionately. He did not move, except his eyes, which half-closed. “And what’s more, there’s this clause in the programming that is suppose to ensure obedience. But what it ends up doing—”
“I’m going to be sick,” Susan muttered.
“Oh come on. They sell these Programmables, they’re supposed to be — well, programmed. It’s what they’re sold for. They volunteer. Anyway. There’s this thing where they’re supposed to imprint on the person to wake them up, who is supposed to be their indenture-holder.”
“:That’s pretty horrible.”
“They’re programmables, Susan,” Kelly repeated. “It’s not like they have feelings until they’re programmed in. Anyway. That means that whoever wakes them up essentially holds their indenture. They can’t be re-imprinted without a full factory reset.
“You stole a programmable human? A person. Kelly. How did you?”
“I hacked a Programmable, using a really obvious exploit in their system. And those training screens they use? They have no security at all. I hacked him, Susan. And now he’s mine.”
She stroked his hair again, paying no attention to the way his jaw twitched at her touch.
Written to yesterday’s Thimbleful Thursday’s prompt: Zero Hour.