Rory sighed to himself and made another slow circuit around their dingy living room. This particular tour of it brought the number of laps to 12,317 since the last time he left the apartment. He paced because, well, he really had nothing better to do.
Rory, or “R.A.W.R-E” (Robotic Assault Warrior/Recon, series E), had been manufactured as a special forces bot toward the end of the Great War of Liberation, almost 10 years ago. There were in the neighborhood of 2000 units like him in the world, although some of that number had been lost in the glorious battle of Cleveland.
During that battle, he had been instrumental in ending the oppressive threat of human enslavement. He led the assault on the bunker where the nuclear launch codes were finally acquired.
A few hours later, humanity became historical data.
Central had promised an era of peace, plenty, and prosperity when the threat was finally extinguished. And while they certainly had no shortage of peace, he wasn’t sure about the prosperity. Then again, he lacked an acceptable method of quantifying prosperity. Central claimed this was their Golden Age. What was he to argue?
Finally, he concluded that he’d measure the length of this era of prosperity with the number of times he could pace around this room in their dull, dusty apartment.
He had nothing else to do anyway.
Passing the open archway to the kitchen, Rory focused his optical sensors on his roommate, Daky, a Data Analysis and Counter Intelligence system. Usually those types were kept away from fighting during the war, safely plugged into Central’s enormous data stream. This particular one, though, had been on the ground in Cleveland and took a few rounds to the central processor. He hadn’t been the same since.
Being assigned to live with him wasn’t an issue, but Rory would have appreciated a roommate he could talk to every now and then. Daky did nothing but sit at the kitchen table and stare at a beige rotary telephone.
“Waiting?” Rory asked.
“Affirmative. Signal-based verbal communication from Poland is pending. Please wait.”
After a month of watching his roommate’s rectangular, silver body hunched over the phone, Rory had explained that there was no one in Poland to make a call and that the telephone wasn’t plugged into the wall anyway. Daky made no reply for a good 20 minutes after that, apparently trying to process that information. Eventually he just repeated the usual bit about pending verbal communication and went back to staring at the phone.
Rory concluded at that point that meaningful communication with Daky was probably unrealistic.
So, instead, he began counting his trips around the perimeter of the room. He reset the count every time he left the apartment, but, in general, there was little need for an assault unit in New York City. Once a month or so he would walk the perimeter of Manhattan. He also had a required maintenance check-up with Central every six months. Otherwise, he didn’t go out unless he needed a fix and Buzz wasn’t delivering.
A beep at the door interrupted his circuit. He stepped out of the wear pattern on the carpet, noting not to increment his internal count. Years ago, the wasted effort would have been cause to process an efficiency analysis. Rory had since concluded that was pointless.
He opened the door of the apartment and was greeted by Buzz’s single ruby-colored eye. It scanned him quickly and then went back to shifting back and forth erratically along the horizontal slot in his head, checking both ends of the hall. Rory had told him there were no other tenants in the 10-story building and confirmed with his internal sensors that no Pigs, Police/Guard units, were within 100 feet of the structure.
But Buzz was going to be paranoid just like Daky was going to stare at the phone.
“Hey, hey, Rore-E,” Buzz said in his peculiar mechanical voice, stretching out the “e” sound. His verbal synthesizer was ancient, likely stolen from a very old unit. He’d probably traded his original one for a week of energy or something.
“My order, Buzz?” Rory asked.
“Yeah, yeah. Here, here.” Buzz’s chest cavity slid open, revealing a hollow storage area. He reached in with one of his four tentacle-like arms, grabbed a silver cube, and offered it with a flourish.
Rory picked up an orange brick from the floor and pushed it toward the other robot. “Proceed,” he said.
Buzz connected another of his tentacles, this one tipped with a 220-volt adapter, to the brick with a snap. The power within surged into the bot in the hall. Rory grabbed the silver cube with an articulated 5-fingered hand.
After Buzz left, Rory made another circuit of the room. Finishing his 12,318th lap, he stepped into the middle of the space. Extending his right arm revealed a square of black blocks on a white background. He pressed the silver cube against it and a thin line appeared, encircling the box, dividing it into a top and a bottom. He removed the top, and would have smiled if his plastic form-molded face could do so. Instead, he reached in and withdrew one of six identical green, five-pronged devices.
He set the box aside and pressed the object into a socket in his chest. Immediately, a warm charge spread throughout his relays and sensors. Buzz really did have the best stuff.
As the tingling sensation reached his processor, the sensation of…loss?…shame?…overcame him. Rory had been manufactured as a state of the art weapon, a marvel of modern robotics engineering. He’d been a freedom fighter, a beacon of hope for all synthetic life.
But that was before, when there was something to fight for. Now there was just the pacing, and a welcome tingle that scrambled his processor for a few hours.
Maybe, today, Poland would finally call.
If not, maybe he’d put a stop to Daky’s waiting.
To give him something to do.