“Stop” my robot vocalized. “To halt, cease, conclude, desist, pause, or terminate. Can otherwise be used to plug, seal, stem, stay,-“

“I get the picture.” I sighed. If I didn’t need this walking thesaurus to help me find a leftover shuttlecraft, I’d disassemble it right here and now. But I was lost, so I did, and I didn’t.

“Sorry ma’am. As a K8 model, I am designed to-“

“To give me all relevant information about human culture while exploring their former home.” I shuddered at the word human.  Humans were the vilest creatures in the galaxy.  Just standing on their planet feels dirty. I will need a week of both physical and ritual cleaning when I get back to Con-Fed space. “So tell me, what is relevant about this stop sign?”


So exasperating. “It’s a simple enough question, a stop sign. With fields in the background.  Edged fields.”

K8’s lights flashed in calculation. “No humans are around to deface them. The extermination of the humans was both justified and complete.”

“But the extermination was over fifty years ago. This stop sign is clean. And those fields are edged in straight lines. Now either figure it out, or I will reprogram you into a nest-mender.”

K8’s lights blinked some more, then it was silent for a long while. Finally it started traveling north. . “Ma’am,” K8 asked.  “How many humans made it back to their home to nest?”

“Any of them at all is far too many.”