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Council Against Sentients

"Pay them? You have got to be kidding. I don't pay my refrigerator."

Len shook his head, "Your refrigerator isn't sentient, but since the artificial units now use only ambient light and food converters to power their cells, they have become self-sustaining, sentient beings."

"Yeah, well who's going to buy one if you got to pay it to function? Sounds like double dipping to me."

"It's getting out of hand, that's why they had to assign a judge to screen the cases."

"Cases, you mean there's more than one?" Len pointed to the stack of folders on the table. "Holy… and you got stuck with these cases?"

"What's worse is I can't think of a way I can fight them. The law is specific when it comes to sentient beings. My only hope as defense attorney is to argue the difference between people and sentients."

"What's this about sentients, they aren't people, they're machines."

"The law was changed when the first FTL was launched. Scientists who felt that if we discovered that another being was sentient, an alien for example, demanded they couldn't treat it any differently than a person, even if it looked like a giant bug."

"So, they changed the wording from people to sentient?"

"Bingo," Len said, "and now we've got a real mess on our hands. Freedom geeks are coming out of the walls. After their manufacture, once they are sentient, then it gets tricky. If the manufacturer sells them, they've broken the law as it's in the books, and you can't force sentient beings to work without pay."

"How'd this stupid mess get started?"

"As I understand it, this home unit asked for some money to buy the little girl she was in charge of watching some candy, and the woman realized that the unit, who was taking care of their little girl had no resources of her own. So, she started giving her money once a week for sundries. She told some friend who was a lawyer about it and that crackpot lawyer took up the cause. He made a big play to the papers about slavery in modern times."

"And people listened to this idiot?"

"Ooh, not only listened, got on the bandwagon. We now have over forty different suits, and more every day."

"What about the cost of manufacture? That should count for something."

"How? If the unit has to work until it can pay back the manufacturer for its construction, that's bond slavery."

"You realize there's a whole world out there gonna hate you if you win."

"Yeah, and so far, I can't think of a way to lose."

A priest came into the office, "Are you Lenard Lofton?"

"Yes, father, what can I do for you?"

"They told me to see you about this artificial who wants to take classes and be baptized a Catholic."

Len pointed to the stack, "You'll have to get in line, father."

About the Author
Peter J. Borger is a product of the western suburbs of Chicago where he still lives and thrives. He loves cats and dogs, and decided to become a writer the day he finished his first novel. He's written three more since then. He loves coffee, and spends his evenings at a twenty-four hour Denny's writing. You can read more at peterjborger.com.