It could only have been a mere matter of hours before a human entered the area. Scanning them, they were scrawny and hunched, a teenager perhaps, loosely carrying an unidentifiable metal object in one hand, and absent-mindedly swinging a spanner in the other. They were kicking around in the rubble, looking for nothing in particular, when their foot connected with a head. The machine whirred on, emitting some concerning beeping noises before his eyes sprung to life. He jolted upright, and turned his head at an unnatural angle, looking at the intruder again. At the sudden movement, a screw slid out and his chest panel fell loose. The boy, as he’d guessed, was pretty young. There were fly-like goggles awkwardly strapped over his glasses with a grimy orange mane growing around them. His face was stained by a mixture of dirt, sweat and grease, and several strands of hair were plastered to his forehead. The thing he was carrying appeared to be a rusting tool box. The paint was chipping off and it seemed as unkempt as the boy holding it.
“That doesn’t look healthy,” the boy said, gesturing the machine’s front. A red light had been revealed through the crack the wonky panel had created, flashing furiously.
He tucked his spanner somewhere in his jacket and began to dig through his toolbox, shaking his shoulders and humming in time with the flashing.
“You’re a pretty new model, right? I don’t have much experience with the fancy-schmancy androids, but I’ll probably have a couple of parts that I could substitute. If you’re willing to try them, that is.”
He paused for a moment, waiting for a response. He moved on after a couple of seconds, realising he wasn’t going to get one, and approached with a screwdriver. As soon as he was close enough to do anything, he shrugged, threw the screwdriver over his shoulder, and tugged at the metal. That was all it took for the framework to fall off.
“Alright, let’s see what we’re working with here… You’re gonna need a little fixing up.” As he spoke, an important-looking something fell out. “A lot,” he corrected himself. “A lot of fixing up.” The boy clicked and held out a hand, and a small drone revealed itself from the tool box, carrying a few cogs. It placed them in his hand and immediately went back to its place, making a low grumbling as it did so.
“Sorry, she’s not much of a talker. Neither are you, really. I removed a couple of her more dangerous features a while back, and she’s still pretty mad at me.”
As he worked, the boy continued his pointless blabber for quite some time, periodically letting out a few frustrated groans and calling his drone out again, who seemed equally irritated. “You know, whoever made you really didn’t want anyone to be able to help you. I don’t even recognise your base design. I have a couple of things you might be compatible with.” He reached into one of his many pockets and grasped around a little, eventually pulling out a part that looked pretty similar to all the others. “I picked it up this morning. Pretty neat, right? I was gonna save it for a special occasion, but…” He trailed off, a mischievous look on his face. Without warning, he shoved it into place. And the world went dark.
Almost an entire minute later, the android woke up again, feeling absolutely nothing different. Everything was exactly the same.
The boy was still there, satisfaction painted across his face.
“And now, you’re not flashing!” He exclaimed with triumph. “I’m not entirely sure what that actually means, but hopefully it’s positive.”
“I didn’t ask for your help, and you didn’t do anything. Nothing’s changed,” the robot spoke up for the first time, already irritated.
The boy looked up in surprise, which quickly faded into a matched annoyance. He let out an exasperated sigh before continuing. “Great, you too. Why does everything I fix have some kind of personality bug.” It was much more a statement than a question. “Did you want me to leave you to waste?”
“Yes,” the android deadpanned.
“You’ll get along with A347 just fine. Speaking of, where has she gotten to?”
The drone revealed herself once again, this time from a pocket on the outside of his coat. She let off an almost-grunt, and started hovering over the boy’s shoulder. “Much like you, she doesn’t know how to appreciate someone saving her.” He shot the drone a pointed look, before laughing it off and pulling his tool box under his arm.
“I’m headed back to the shed. Follow if you like, or if you don’t. There aren’t many options, no one except me comes this far out.”
And with that, he turned and started over the pile of junk from whence he came, resuming the tune he had started humming earlier.
Imitating a sigh, the newly-fixed robot hesitantly followed after. The boy, nuisance though he was, at least had some kind of hope in the world. A rare find in times like these.
If left ignored, neither of them would stand a chance.