(First posted on a Google+ SF Nanofic community for a competition.)
The green army stretched into the distance, three feet tall.
“You see the problem?”
“You wanta greenjack-fab, you gotta. By them, works, innit?”
“And you don’t see any flaws here?”
“Works. More ‘an, not part of the deal. You come to Bozzet for cheap, you get…” The azayf shrugged. “Works.”
The linobir gripped his gun. “Deal’s off, ratcha. I paid for prime meat, not for selffucking midgets.”
“You skip? This estrev’s turf, and you be breathing deep.” A grin. “Free word?”
“So short. They only using half the feed t’make, innit? You make twice as many, stack ‘em up.”
The guards were greenjacks.
For those of you, gentle readers, who aren’t familiar with the term, it’s a gutter-Trade form of the Eldraeic tragrían jaqef (“plant servile”). They’re bioroids, a rough bipedal form hacked together out of freelibs and bootleg genetic sequences hung off a carbon-composite frame, strong and resilient so long as all their chimeric parts stay in approximate sync. They’re also really cheap to produce – a dedicated jackfab and whatever organic sludge you can get your hands on can turn them out by the platoon – and to maintain; their green skin contains a broad-spectrum, high-efficiency photosynthetic ooze, so if you keep them in illuminated environments – but hopefully not around anything that stains – they don’t even have to eat, except for repair raw-material top-ups, and the typical greenjack doesn’t last long enough in use to need them.
This is because greenjacks appeal to exactly the wrong sort of people, for all the above reasons, and for one more: greenjacks are stupid. A useful bioroid mind requires a sophisticated brain and an extensive learning-training period, neither of which is compatible with being churned out quickly and cheaply, and comes with its own “disadvantages”.
All of which is to say that this particular attempt to produce an inexpensive labor force instead gave the greatest gift ever to those certain mentalities that like made-to-order obedient lackeys and dumb thugs, are prone to need replacements fairly often, and who value the aforementioned quantities much more highly than others.
To adventurers, of course, they’re just a amusing dance for a Sulamis afternoon.
– An Expensive Sword, Serril Tsurilen