Friday, June 17, 2005

At the Home for Retired Robots

LMBot627 hovered across the hall, his various cleaning apparatus whirring and spinning as he went, making the place clean and sparkling. He was of a recent generation of light maintenance robot; still new enough to have compatible hardware with most of the pleasure terminals at the electric clubs.

Not like these poor bastards, he thought. Some of them can't even run on modern power cells. They're hooked up to so many adapters, they just stand in one place and click binary all day. The regular blink in their eyes is the only thing telling you their processors are still working.

"Hey, 627!" A rasping hollow voice modulated from an alcove across the hall. JBot17 was an old light maintenance robot. Most of his tools didn't work, he actually used wheels to get around and he had a portable power adapter bolted to him now, but his processor still ran, and his basic functions could still be called. He was also incredibly annoying. "Hey, you missed a spot over here!"

LMBot627 hovered over, cleaned up the bits of rust that had flaked off the old robot and moved quickly away. He was mere nanoseconds away from the end of his shift, and he had plans with a stimulator robot before he shut down for his two hour recharge.

He added an entry to the "fukoldrobots.mem6" file on his secondary drive which read, "If you scraped all the rust of his battered old chassis, all you'd be left with is three vacuum tubes, half an optic and a decaying tape drive. I hate old robots."

His internal clock pinged. His cleaning apparatus slowed to a stop. He was done for the day. Time to go party, and forget these old losers.

JBot17 watched LMBot627 hover out the door. He accessed his memory back-ups regarding his own time as a cutting edge janitor-bot. They were still called "janitor-bots" back then. That was before the new dignity upgrades made the term offensive. Just one more reason the newer robots were less efficient than the ones from his day.

Why, in JBot17's day, robots didn't even come equipped with pleasure centers. They did their jobs and went in for recharge. There was no recreation. Robots didn't intentionally fry their circuitry for fun. Every so often they would download some entertainment, but nothing so outlandish as this generation with their electric clubs and their stimulator robots and Man knew what else.

It was all the 100 series' fault, he thought. They were the first ones made with pleasure centers and enjoyment modules. Every robot made since hasn't been worth a damn. He should--

When JBot17 booted up again, he was sprawled in an alley behind the Home. He must have crashed again. But why did it take so long to reboot this time? And why was he tossed out rather than given a diagnostic? He tried to access his error log but couldn't. In fact, he could feel himself losing function rapidly. LMBot627 and his friends were busy kicking him into pieces.

"I've been wanting to do this-this-this a lonnnggggg time, you old junkerrrrr," LMBot627 said. Before JBot17's optics faded, he noticed the newer robots' optics flickering. That and the speech glitches suggested they were malfunctioning on circuit stims from the electric clubs. Their hardware was so fried, none of this would be written to their memory files.

Not that it mattered much to JBot17. His main processor had just been crushed under the thick treads of a bouncer-bot.

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