Hello once again, and this is the second part of my current short story not so short story series about a robot and a human’s meeting, and how this will inevitably change their fates. Not much to say here other than to enjoy if you’ve been following and to stick around if you’re even a tad bit interested in this world that I’ve created. Here you go, “Town of Living Gears, Part 2”
The very next day I was out on an errand with Wren. He had finished the leather holder for the iron rod, in which I had beneath the robe he gave me. Wren’s logic had come from the fact that the purpose of my creation may be linked with the town, and thus he gave it consideration to have me peruse the town rather than hide. His logic seemed sound enough, and perhaps looking at the town and how its changed may entice something with me. I may not have been told of my forthcoming, but perhaps I can make logic from dust. That much should be enough for my system since it is constantly making logical approaches to every situation.
I held onto the hem of my hood very tightly, as despite my hair being synthetic, it still seemed fake to the observant eye. I had Wren braid it behind me, to which he replied it seemed like plastic craft. However, I knew from his information, that any indication of my true nature would have me stripped away from Wren and cause him trouble. That much I did not wish, for he was my creator’s successor to some extent. Wren had bandages over his hands, but they still seemed rather beaten up and worn from work. Despite his shaven face, Wren was a rather hardened worker, and was very gruff and belligerent in attitude, but something within me contradicted that obvious logic. He was rather contradictory in nature, to me, at least now.
I asked him what the extent of this errand was, in which he replied, “I’m a mechanic here. Well, not a mechanic, but a handyman. But I mostly work on fixing the machinery here. It’s an important aspect of this town, as you can tell.” Almost every house had some kind of machine working for it, from simple things like water gathering or even maintenance. Clouds and clouds of gray smoke emitted from these homes and filled the skies. The people all wore some kind of mask, however, Wren didn’t. They were all well built otherwise, though the smog seemed to affect their lungs more than it did to Wren, and some larger citizens didn’t opt to wear the mask either. None seemed to bat an eye towards me nor Wren. They all seemed to be within their own worlds, all minding their own business.
“Why do you not wear a mask?” Wren was scanning the streets, seeming to look for something. He made a turn to his left, and then said, “I’m immune. Some folk have grown used to the toxic chemicals in the air.” He turned another street, towards where a large crowd had gathered. There seemed to be great chatter among the air in this part, which was unlike the rest of the town. As we came closer to the crowds, people began taking notice and a path was opened up. Wren turned to look at me, and then said, ” If anyone asks, your name is Marianne, a traveler whom I’ve picked up. You are to be my apprentice.”
“Understood.” As we got to the heart of the crowd, a robot was strewn across the streets, it’s gusts were mangled with gears and tubes all protruding from its open chest.
“Will you fix him?” I asked. Wren bent down, and inspected the damage. He traced the tubes and gears and inspected the jagged ends of the metal that stuck out of the stomach area. There was nothing more in the area surrounding, and the people around us began whispering amongst themselves. I saw that Wren grew agitated by this behavior. He then yelled out into the crowd, “Who’s machine is this?” No one answered, and Wren then slammed his fist into the robots sides and yelled again, “Who’s machine is this?” Someone from the crowd stepped up and without looking up at him Wren continued, “What happened?”
“He was my gardening tool, I left him in my backyard to tend to my crops, but when I got back he was missing. I then found him on the path here, already destroyed. There were no traces.” I inspected the man closely, he was a scrawny old man, with just enough meat on his bones to constitute standing. His scalp was balding, and his hands were especially sweaty. However, his clothes were of fine fabric, and they were interwoven very intricately.
“I’ll take him to my lab. I’ll leave him at your door when I’m done.” Wren picked up the destroyed robot very carefully and then began heaving it back, with the crowd now slowly dispersing. I lagged behind Wren, “You told me that humans had enslaved the robots yes?” Wren took care in looking around and scanning the streets before answering me, “We did. ”
“And yet acts like this are still committed? Would this not reduce efficiency within the structure?”
“It would, which is exactly why it was done.” At the time, I did not understand the concept of inner groups within the make of the town. I knew that there was a governing body that had superior power, but I was unaware of groups that worked to oppose that power. I would later come to realize that the acts done against robots were not in accordance to robot based anathema, but human will.
We arrived back at Wren’s home, in which Wren took the robot to his basement workshop and began repairs. I knew from prior knowledge that Wren preferred solitude upon work, and thus did not follow him onto his workshop. However, Wren called for me anyway, stating, “I’ll be obliged to have you know what kind of work I exactly do.” I entered and saw Wren adjusting the head of the robot, opening a few plates and using a fine sharpened rod to poke about. After a few moments of prodding, Wren made an expression of joy and then grabbed what seemed to be two metal claws that were attached and extracted something from the robot’s head. It was a small iron plating, that was burnt to be charcoal painted. Wren then fixed the head, and began replacing the gears and tubes that were broken, throwing the old ones in a pile, and then grabbing new ones from an opposite pile.
“So you see anything? Got any more clues as to why you were made?” The question was directed to me, but despite that I had no answer for him. Instead, I walked over to the pile of junk, and then inspected the odds and ends that lined the workshop. For some reason, I felt a tinge of sadness well up inside me, and I felt a strange sensation to cry out towards those who have been hurt. I had enough logic in me to know that Wren had been tasked with many jobs to fix damaged robots.
“You know, I’m not the only one trying to figure out why Klover… My grandfather decided to make you.”
“Why do you refuse to call Klover by his name?”
“In fact, we all want to know why you were made. So when I’m free, I’ll take you to them. They’re all good people, I’m sure we can wrap our heads around something. Though we might have to open you up.” I remembered Wren talking about documents that were from the late Klover, that and including the artifacts that Wren must still have from Klover, would all contribute to my finding my purpose.
“Do you have any more particular artifacts from the late Klover?” I gripped the iron rod at my side as I said this. Wren continued on with his work of replacing damaged parts as I rummaged through the junk. I found bits and pieces of broken sheet metal that were cut, burned or crushed. I could not feel any sympathy for my companions past the point of initial sadness for I knew that the life of a robot no matter how sentient it may be does not bleed blood. We do not feel the physical pains nor endure the pain stakes of life as humans do, and as thus we live carefree, almost as giants among dwarves, as immortals upon this mountain. As thus we have gained a shred of impunity that has been torn apart by the hands of those who wish to abuse it.
“You’re not going to find a gold mine in that heap. Even my pile of junk won’t have any treasure.” I knew for a fact that pressing a question twice is a means to add insult to injury, or so the human saying goes. In robot terms, that saying goes, if it doesn’t equate the first time, it is not going to equate a second time. So now, as I have led away from the initial question I tasked Wren with, I will bring it up again.
“Why do you refuse to call Klover by his name?”
“Probably won’t find any more of his artifacts here. The iron rod was the only thing he left in his workshop, but the other members might have more treats. Haven’t seen them since–” He stopped his sentence, focused his time on his work, and continued tinkering away. I left the pile of junk, and noticed that he had a portrait strained on one of the walls. It was a family portrait, except, all the faces were charred. Not a single person from the four was visible. I ignored the portrait, and saw a particularly interesting long arm. I call it a long arm only by appearance, but I later learned it was called a rifle. It was strapped onto the wall, but at the time was not functional, and only served as a model to what would become the human race’s opus magnum. Or at least, that is what most human figure heads would call it. Wren never told me why he had a model rifle in his workshop, but I never stuck around long enough to know how it developed either.
“Do you know what receptive listening is?” I was well aware that his entire posture and pressure towards his muscles were akin to two things, his temper, and his work. I had already calculated the amount of exact pressure and mannerism required to complete his work, but by his speech and abnormal retention to what he needed to exert, I could tell that something was wrong. If I was closer to him, I would also be able to tell finer details such as temperature or pulse. My creator, as before, had equipped me with such functions, at the time, functions I thought were only unique to my kind. However, humans have their own way of understanding the room. A way I would never come to understand.
“Haven’t got a clue.”
“It is the process in which I am able to receive communication from another without their direct response.” After replacing most of the damaged parts, Wren went over to the back of the workshop, where a small furnace was burning lightly. He opened it and stuck an iron rod in it until it began glowing red. He then went over to the robot, and began cindering the metal, and manipulating it with another pair of claws. He was melding it into place and adding new sheets of metal to cover up the hole.
“And what does that process have to do with me?”
“Why do you refuse to call Klover by his name?” Wren understood fully without me having to say it directly. He was almost done repairing the robot when he finally answered me, “The same reason why I don’t call you by your model name.” That was also a question in which I had no answer for, in which he refused to answer for, in which I did not press him for.
“It’s a reason that you probably won’t understand.” I did not try to argue, but I still had my own say in the matter.
“Is it the same reason in which I would not understand why humans name each other?”
“And what reason would that be?”
“Simply because as humans, you are all people of the same race. Whether there are many of you does not deem itself necessary to differentiate from one another. Animals do not do the same, and yet they colonize and thrive. Giving tags to differentiate a person from another is inefficient and detrimental to the system.” My thoughts were contrived by a system of logic that I had built up over observing and interacting with humans. I had come to that conclusion in the same manner that I have come to hate the given name Marianne. I hated the name not out of spite towards it, but simply because my model is MCW-01, my given way of differential preference. If one were to need me, they would call me by my model. Or better yet, if one were to refer to me, they would just say it directly to me or by ways not mythical in strange human interactions. This conclusion was something I was very stringent on at the time.
“I see where you’re coming from. It does seem like an inefficient system don’t it? We all have to remember each other’s faces and names, and once we don’t, we become the target of social shame. Though robots don’t have a sense of shame do they?”
“Human emotions are void from my logic.” Despite saying that, I know that my system was derived from a human who very much made me as humanistic as possible.
“But names are important, at least to us humans. The difference between humans and animals are the fact that we can imagine things. We can create worlds, and we can see ourselves in the future. We can pretend to be someone we aren’t, and at the same time we can mend the perceptions we have of people in our heads. We’re a scary group of savants, and even then some of us still develop a sense of intelligence equaling that of rats.” I tried to follow Wren’s logic. He argued the difference between himself and animals, and yet animals lived far easier lives than humans. It is without argument that with the eradication of humans, animals would be able to live in their own contrived eco-system. Humans are the poison of animals.
“And with our differences, we’ve come to be very vain creatures. With that vanity came names. We began telling ourselves that we were more important as individuals, and to prove our importance as individuals, we named each other. Names come with two strikes, care to guess?”
“They are used as a way to ease communicative necessities, and a way to have a name written on gravestones?”
“You really are a robot aren’t you? More than that, you’re just like the people who we fight. Names are a way for us to give meaning to our lives. When I die, my life will be known for the things that I as Wren have done. My actions, will be marked upon this name. More than that, my name is a way for me to consolidate with the fact that I’ve a family. No matter how bloodshot I am about my lineage, I am still grateful for what it has given me. For that I cannot be belligerent.” I processed the information he had given me, removing my original logic, and creating new systems from what he had told me. He finished his work that day, and I still could not understand why he refused to call Klover by his name.