Author : Steve Smith, Staff Writer
Andy knew he was a relic. He used to violently object when it was suggested that he was past his prime, but after a while the reality was too apparent to ignore.
It had been years, maybe decades since he’d been able to find factory fresh parts. Most of his equipment now was made up from bits scavenged and scrounged, then adapted as best he could.
Sometimes there would be an accident in the construction projects, and if he was lucky, and quick, he could tear off whole limbs or liberate power cells before the maintenance crews arrived to chase him away.
Most of these parts were too new, but some could be modified to fit, the rest traded away.
Andy found himself wandering through a section of the city that he remembered as it had been, vibrant and alive, but as he trudged down the streets and through the alleys, he found the roads in disrepair and littered with rubble and refuse. The once tall and gleaming buildings that reached skyward were now bent and broken, some leaning across the street on a neighbor, as if seeking comfort from the overwhelming decay.
This part of the city too, it seemed, had outlived its usefulness, now just awaiting its turn to be torn down and born again.
His head turned skyward, marveling at the battered structures holding each other aloft, Andy didn’t notice the road had given away before him until his weight had shifted too far over the empty space to recover.
Safety systems gone out of alignment and a battered gyroscopic guidance system struggled to orient him for a favorable landing, but Andy hit hard, scrambling circuits already oxidized to the point of being barely functional.
For a while, Andy was still, his world dark.
When he regained motor control, Andy pulled himself roughly and unsteadily upright. He was aware that he’d fallen, but could not recall the events preceding it. Around him he could make out the rough structure of a transit tunnel. Metal rails reached off in either direction in triplicate, no longer shiny from use but rather tarnished and pitted with age. Andy knew how they felt.
Andy picked a direction at random, and had trudged for some time before the tunnel opened up into a larger cavern on one side. In the middle, a pile of refuse burned surrounded by a cluster of shadowy figures who scattered into the darkness as he approached.
“Derelict maintenance droids, ” Andy muttered to himself, then loudly at the retreating figures, “if you were working for me I’d have your parts.”
Andy pulled himself up on the platform, then trundled to the fire, carefully stamping it out.
As he stood surveying the scene, he noticed one of the droids had not left, but rather was lying in a heap on the ground. Andy nudged its head with the toe of one large foot.
Excited, Andy pulled the droid into the middle of the platform where he had room to work. The droid was relatively small, but no doubt useful. As carefully as his tools would allow, Andy set to work disassembling the wiry unit.
Hydraulic fluid spilled everywhere, it’s plumbing obviously ruptured internally having no doubt resulted in overheating or loss of motor control.
Andy marveled at the delicacy of the inner workings of the unit, but was frustrated and confused that there didn’t seem to be a single part compatible with his own chassis.
Arriving back at the head, he examined the dent his foot had left in the casing. It was at this point that his headlights fell full on the droids eyes.
Andy paused, awestruck by the workmanship of these white and colored orbs staring back at him. They truly would be beautiful, Andy thought, if they weren’t so vacant.