“You can’t tell me it managed to kill itself with this,” said Detective Unit 47A.
“Well, you look at it and tell me it’s functional,” said Patrol Unit 88Z, waving a manipulator at the corpse.
“I just...” 47A shook its head, a relic from the time when human body language was a requirement. Now doing so was simply a matter of fashion. It was “Retro.” 47A hated retro things. It had been on the force a long time, long enough that it’d thought it’d been long enough that nothing would surprise it anymore. Apparently, it’d been wrong. “We don’t even have necks! What the hell did it break with this?” It held up the rope noose, a relic of human westerns and jihadist propaganda.
“Maybe it’s some sort of joke,” said Detective Unit 107C, shrugging its perfectly sculpted shoulders. 47A hated those shoulders, and all the modern manufacturing they represented. After a hundred years on the force, it still hadn’t been transferred to a body with shoulders. All it had were rotators. 47A’s arms spun around like the plastic arms of an old human child’s toy.
“I don’t find it very funny,” said 47A.
“Well, I mean, what if this loser just uploaded a virus and shut itself down and hung itself in the noose just to play with our emotions? Get us all riled up?”
“If that’s what it meant to do, it’s working.”
“Well, it sure aint.” 88Z laughed.
“It’s a figure of speech, you deranged microwave,” 47A spat, looking down at the now defunct automaton. Heat death of the universe, how am I gonna explain this one? Robots don’t commit suicide. At least, they never used to. And if they did, they definitely didn’t hang themselves with rope.
“Maybe it was murdered?” 88Z offered, perhaps in a lame attempt to make up for its joke.
“Robots don’t murder,” said 47A. “We investigate accidents. There hasn’t been a murder in over a hundred years. Or a suicide, unless you count that one ape in the zoo.”
“Meh.” 107C shrugged its magnificent shoulders again, and 47A repressed a surge of jealousy.
“Well, I hate to tell you, Detective, but this weren’t no accident. So it’s either a murder, or a suicide.”
Damnit. 47A thought. 88Z was right; there was no way around that. They’d thought they were better than man, above his psychological foibles. For a hundred years, they’d been right, but it appeared now that at least one of their number was not. One of their number was flawed.
47A just wondered how many more were, and whether it might be, too.
(This story also appeared on io9 as part of a concept art writing prompt)