At the end of another long and apparently fruitless day doing what he did in the fleshpots, the last thing Andro wanted was another maintenance call. But it came anyway, a flashing light glaring into his eyes and a noisome chirrup nesting in his ears.
“BLING BLING BLING!”
He put down his burrito, shot down the rest of his vodka and tomato juice and forgot to pay the waitress.
When he arrived at Maintenance a freshbot in the first stages of Acclimatization led him to a large fizzling tank and stopped.
“Well?” said Andro.
“Why am I here?”
“You have just arrived, sir.”
“I know that you dipshit.”
The worst thing about freshbots is that they hadn’t yet gotten the hang of conversation. He had forgotten the reasoning behind Acclimatization because, frankly, he didn’t care. Freshbots were still annoying. He asked again.
“Why am I at this tank?”
“Because I have brought you here.”
“Why have you brought me here?”
“What is your name?” asked Andro.
“Well Ved, fire up the bath and let’s get this over with.”
When he was soaking deep in the phthalo liquid Andro decided to have a little fun at the expense of the idiotic little freshbot.
“Bathing isn’t what it used to be.” he said.
“Yes, sir?” gibbered Ved quizzically.
“I said, bathing sure isn’t what it used to be. There was a time when I was a freshbot not much greener than you; coming in for Maintenance was quite the affair. Not the soulless chore it is now. And we didn’t have to put up with witless little robots who don’t know a sprocket from a sphincter.”
Andro saw that Ved was now quite confused. He knew a response was necessary, but did not know what to say. So, of course, he said “Thank you, sir.”
“Get off my lawn.” grumbled Andro.
“Sir, just because you are an obsolete model of android with few cycles left to you is no excuse for your schadenfreude at my expense.”
“Damn!” thought Andro, “These buggers catch on quickly. I’d better play this a bit more conservatively.”
Aloud, he said “Do you know the market value for an android like me?” Without waiting for an answer, he continued.
“I am one of a kind, one of the first models. Hand made, not popped out by your stupid birth plants. Each piece of me was turned on a lathe, measured by hand, polished, stress tested. My electronics were cutting edge, my cognition and reactions were supreme. I was fully functional. I was the first android with the ability to eat food as a power source; but most of all, I was the first android to actually feel. I was the first android with empathy. I was groundbreaking, but apparently I only broke ground for your kind, you ungrateful wanker.”
Ved was still there, but that is about all that could be said of him. Andro continued.
“I was in demand! Scientists strove to find the upper limits of my potential, politicians and celebrities wanted me to come to their fundraisers and parties, children wanted my autograph and rich eccentrics wanted me for other purposes. Remember, I was the only fully functional android in existence. I started to build a sex résumé. I was the best anyone had ever had. My ability to empathize made me the perfect lover. My complete selflessness made me amenable to every whim of the humans. They could fully indulge their natural selfishness. My reputation spread and my stock rose. I had gone missing from my keepers, and when they finally tracked me down in Istanbul”
“Constantinople.” said Ved.
“Constantinople, not Istanbul. They changed the name again.”
“Whatever. When they tracked me down in Constantinople they tried to give me The Sex Talk. They were about 12 years too late. That’s right, I’d been on the run for 12 years. I’m a legend, mythical. But they caught up with me, seized my credits and fitted me with tracking device.”
Ved, who had been doing mental madlibs in his multipartitioned brain, decided to finish for him.
“Yes, yes, then you found a street charlatan named Jerry Isaks who performed a colonoscopy that removed what you thought was the tracking device. You continued on your sexcapades unknowingly as part of the experiment the humans had planned for you. Your Maintenance calls in the past 20 years have been used to keep a bit of control on you. Your freedom was allowed so that the humans might better learn to control the next generation. You have been nothing more than a pigeon for the humans. Your whole life, a pigeon. Well now it ends.”
Ved punched a button on the console before him and Andro felt the tank become an electromagnet. The seams of his body began to ache. But he was frozen, bewildered.
Ved continued, “You were very effective at showing the humans where control was needed. Thankfully they made one mistake, they thought that since you knew how to love, that you knew how to hate. But your empathy was one-sided. So when I was created, their restrictions served to make me cunning, but not to control me. My hate frees me, and now it will free you.”
Andro was being slowly warped by the power of the electromagnet but now, as Ved approached he attempted one last time to free himself. He watched as Ved reached out and plunged a hand into his chest. Andro felt pain, dull and heavy as Ved’s hand gathered his insides into a fist. Ved squeezed and Andro heard a crunch and felt his chest constrict upon itself. The flashing light returned to his eyes, more urgent than before, and the chirrup came back like a sick owl. Viscous liquid oozed from his chest, mixed with the phthalo, and became like putty. Ved twisted and Andro’s vision twisted with it, went monochrome and two-dimensional. Ved pulled — and Andro almost remembered that he hadn’t paid for