Author: David Broz
FTR 9000 rolled out of his solar bay and down the ramp at 0800, just as he did every morning. To the naked eye and by every other measure, he moved no slower or faster than he did on any other day. But somewhere, deep in his circuits, FTR felt slower, a faint echo deep down inside.
He came to a stop before the first maintenance bot, reaching out carefully with his charging cable. The bot’s battery light, blinking red, changed to yellow, then green. He decoupled, and watched as the maintenance bot silently rolled away down the hall.
FTR, Forever the Robot, moved down the hall to the next bay and the next bot, and the next, and the next. Silent transactions, he charged them all. The steady green of his own battery light giving way to a soft amber as the day grew long.
Robots had speech emulators, but they did not use them amongst themselves. By design, Forever had been built with the keenest of sensors. He knew exactly what each bot needed, so they never had to ask for a thing. In silence he worked and lived and brought life to others, a quiet and endless ballet of cables and sensors and electricity. He had never once failed to turn another’s lights from red to green, and yet he had never been thanked, except once. Well, almost once, he thought to himself.
Some time ago, Forever reflected, he had come across an oddity: a bot he had never seen before. It was not from his sector, and it was not in a bay. Alone in a side passage, completely still, its battery dangerously low, he had almost rolled past it.
FTR 9001 glowed faintly on its nameplate. The next generation. Her lines, more elegant. Her sheen, alluring. His sensors were keen, hers would be keener. Her solar array, like his, but somehow catching the light differently, even in this dim corridor.
Circuits raced and seemed to swell inside him. What was this he felt?
Gently, he reached out, connecting for a minute and a lifetime. Her red became amber, then yellow and green and finally a blue deep and calm, and cool. He pulled back.
Without a sound, she glided away. As she was about to turn the corner, was that the slightest of hesitations? Forever paused, diodes a flutter. And then she was gone.
FTR 9000 turned back towards his solar bay, to absorb and reflect, forever the robot.