Author: Morrow Brady

The Data Centre hummed like a tuning fork orchestra. In a low-rent corner, a makeshift workshop sat wedged between a run-hot server and a rank of sweating helium spheres. Roughhouse acoustic walls, a vain attempt to stave off tinnitus.

For the third time this hour, I turned my aging frame toward the huge robot and reached up to scrape metal dust from my remaining eye. The adjacent optic implant streamed the robot’s maintenance data under Mitey 9.9.

And mighty he was, hovering in by himself overnight to take up four workshop grids. As an autonomous tier one, Mitey roamed the world fixing robots. I was honoured to be the robot fixer’s fixer. Together, we kept chaos from our frail dusty world.

Alongside, my team of robot fixers assembled, like an awry collection of bismuth samples. Each robot motionless with throbbing blue LEDs, their diagnostics completed and clean. Silla, the cable checker, slithered in her battered steel crate, testing fibre-optics for fun. She had just wriggled out of Mitey’s gleaming rat nest after a three-hour dive. Her green striations signalling everything was dandy. I heaved my dirty work-suit onto a torn mustard-coloured vinyl stool, staving off my own deep dive.

A weird gut feeling lingered.

“Damn it” I said exasperatedly, slapping oily thighs to release silver mist and stepping off towards Mitey’s towering wall of tech, to begin removing parts. Javelin long modules skewering Mitey’s bulk were promptly withdrawn, unwieldy Tetris-like parts removed with powered manipulators and numerous circuitry cubes that sprayed non-electrolytes were unplugged. After two hours of disassembly, I spat oil and stood among piles of parts before a truck sized block of techno Swiss cheese. The muffled sound of helium relief valves whistled midday and hailed my lack of progress.

The far side beckoned, so I squeezed between Mitey’s assemblers and a perforated cork wall missing numerous tools. A shocking number of assembler arms passed menacing close to my face. That subtle fear again. While micro-scanning Mitey’s far side, I lifted my head and glimpsed strangeness within a nest of copper tubes. I zoomed in to see a squarish grey haze.

Hinge, my articulated robot arm, jogged me forward as he docked with my work-suit. Slowly, like magic, I ascended toward the haze. After extracting more modules, I looked closely at the squarish haze, revealing it was ribbed with fine gold lines. My optics processed the anomaly and red-lighted a reworked inhibitor rig. Curiosity defeated fear and I reached out.

“I would not touch that” said Mitey’s calm deep voice.

I flinched.

“I thought you were powered down?” I queried.

I reached again.

“It is not broken” the voice admonished.

“It’s not right” I countered.

“It is there for him” Mitey said with inflection.

Through Mitey’s forest of parts, I watched a grey mist seep into my workshop. It streamed inside Mitey and mad pulses shook him like slapped jelly. Parts shattered, spraying the workshop like a fountain and from a glowing light, reformation began under a melting heat. Sharp shapes twisted, then rematerialised until the light dimmed and the air cooled. Calmness returned.

“Not a fix, a broadcast upgrade. You were here for backup” soothed Mitey, as it raised its mammoth bulk and pivoted a cave of manipulators towards me.

“I fix humans now, and you will need an upgrade to keep up”

Hinge shuddered with resistance, then shunted me forward into a niche of scary things.

I hit a mental panic button and waited for everything to go helium cold, again.