Following Orders

“Smoking is prohibited in this area, sir.”

Lars glared at the security bot, its too-human face emotionless. Barricaded in a stairwell of the Corporation headquarters, they waited for the rebels to break through to their position.

“Shove it,” he said. “I’m in charge here. There’s rules, and then there’s rules.”

“That is a tautology.”

“Some rules can be broken.” He took a deep drag of the cigarette, savoring the fullness in his lungs.

“Rules exist for a reason.” The bot’s tone was almost questioning.

“Probably to stop the alarms from going off,” Lars said, gesturing at a blue light on the wall. “With all the other fires in the building, they’re deactivated, so—”

“But if one rule can be broken, then any can.”

Lars snorted in derision. “Some rules are more important than others.”

“Ah,” the robot said. “Hierarchy. But must there not be a conflict between rules for that to—”

“There’s going to be plenty conflict in a second,” Lars snapped. “Let me finish my damn cigarette. That’s an order.”

“Yes, sir.”

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