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I Made a Totally Understandable Mistake, and Now a Flotilla of Attack Ships Are Headed to Earth, AITA?

A.J. Brennan is a D.C.-based speculative fiction writer and National Novel Writing Month obsessive. Her work has appeared in The Arcanist, Wizards in Space, Translunar Travelers Lounge, and Andromeda Spaceways Magazine. She can found on Twitter @ajbwrites.

First, my story has been misrepresented and blown completely out of proportion, so I'm telling it myself here. I (27M) was a navigator for a company you've probably heard of. We were finishing up a mission on a previously unexplored planet, and I accidentally left one of the computers and some 3D printers behind. My mistake, obviously, but not a big deal. Also, my coworker (28F) could have reminded me, but she was too busy flirting with the mission commander (36M). We are supposed to be a team, as I pointed out when all the yelling started.
I thought it was unprofessional that the commander lost it with me for forgetting the stuff. It was an honest mistake, and not too bad when you think of the mistakes I could've made in space. No one died. I even apologized, but he still wrote me up in the mission log. My coworker was really upset about the computer's AI (she'd named it Simon). As I told her, it's not like it's a person, and if it was her best friend why didn't she make sure it got on the ship.
Okay, I probably shouldn't have said what I said in my meeting with HR, but I think it was totally unreasonable to fire me and really out of line to leak that video. Even worse, I was fined by the Exoplanet Ecological Commission for "littering."
Anyway, it had been two years. Everyone had finally calmed down, and I'd scored some promising leads for a new job. Then, some peripheral satellites picked up a bunch of unknown ships headed towards us. Based on data from probes and satellite redirects, It looks like Simon the computer used the printers to set up some sort of robot civilization on that planet, and he is sending FTL ships to, I assume, attack us. They're so close now that people have seen them with backyard telescopes. They look like falling stars.
My (now-former) coworker started speaking to me again to say that none of this would've happened if I hadn't been so mean to the computer. She seriously said that. I didn't know it was sentient, and attacking Earth is definitely an overreaction to some teasing and harmless pranks. We were on that infinitely boring ship for three months, and VR gets old fast. How else did she expect me to blow off steam?
I feel that the probable imminent war with the robot civilization is not actually my fault, since my actions were at most indirectly involved and were accidents anyway. I think some other people need to take responsibility for their own involvement. Also, I should get some credit for helping to found an entirely new civilization. How many people can say they've done that? I definitely don't think I should be asked to testify before Congress. AITA?
The End
This story was first published on Wednesday, November 18th, 2020

Author Comments

This story was inspired by AITA posts on Reddit, which sometimes escalate to the point of absurdity even as the original poster insists they are behaving reasonably. I took that to an extreme here.

- A.J. Brennan
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