Humanity's finest trait is its ability to improve in such a way that it makes us a nearly omnipotent species compared to the rest of the earth. For years, we’ve taken a firm grasp of the world, bending it’s very being to best suit us. We’ve changed the growing of crops to best fit our population, we’ve made our very own evolutionary changes in wolves, breeding them to be the perfect canine companion, and we’ve even harnessed the very power of earth to power massive structures and productions that other wild animals could never experience in not even 1000 generations.
Despite all of this, we still have suffered on our planet. Some of us abuse this earth, and others abuse their fellow man. Humans see this and think that this is all our planet and its people are capable of. This is wrong of course; thousands of years, we grow kinder and closer to our fellow man. Rulings become more focused on the people, and clean cities and towns now permeate our moist rock of a habitat, our fellow man is closer than ever before. We must see this violence our planet shows currently, and compare it to our past. We have never been closer to a peace with one another in our entire recorded history.
Now, in this story, we fast forward our clocks to many, many years. How many? We will most likely never know. It could be 50. It could be 1000. This is not important. In this time period, mankind has achieved peace around the globe and help one another in a massive fusion of cultures and race. Science has skyrocketed to levels that would be unthinkable in our initial crash landing on this planet, yet here it is, in front of you. Cities with buildings that are sleeker than anything modern day, and shines with the ever-available super materials our planet now creates. The roads are filled with cars that never reach the ground, and drivers sitting back and watching the news on tablets fastened to their arms. Trash now nonexistent in the world, immediately reconstructed to fuel or materials from massive reconstruction buildings. Nothing goes to waste. No one has to suffer. We are safe.
So why are you reading this? No man or woman goes on a journey, or seek asylum and vengeance. None made of flesh, at least. The heroes of this story are of a truly different breed; a breed made from a mirror of humanity. The only creatures that can experience what we can without the need to evolve or risk dying out. These creatures, made of plastic, metal, glass, and tubing are to be your heroes.
This is the story of robots. True artificial intelligence, with the ability to think freely, speak freely, and do freely. Machines with the ability to learn, like us. Can we learn a lesson from them? Do they have our same drive for improvement in oneself? Or are their procedurally generated thoughts and feelings invalid, unlike our own chemically induced thoughts?
Giant behemoths made of metal and glass cry out in scraping echoed voices. They haul massive amounts of dirt from the earth to make room for the newest project of humanity, labeled as a secret to be released that very day. A vast majority of the workers themselves had no clue what they were making but knew it had to be important in the end.
One worker however simply does not give a damn, as he’s sent here to do his job and nothing more. He is from a line of humanoid robots called Alpha Centaurians, that are designed to be multipurpose for most any task. This robot has a large, spherical chassis, round head, and a semi sphered pelvis, the chassis and pelvis being separated by a blue tube that is meant to behave like a stomach. His arms and legs are made up of multiple joints down to the elbow and knee, similar to flexible rubber hoses. Above the elbow, and below the knees are big blocky gauntlets and boots, based off of old sci-fi movies to give them a nicer look for possible daycare jobs, along with having enough room to add any needed upgrades, such as radios or screens. His head has two antennas that are symmetrical to one another on either side of his head. In the middle of the said head, was a screen, with two depressingly tired eyes, and a sad drooping mouth. His name is AC, given to him by his cooler blue colors on his arms and face screen, and his lack of wanting a new name besides his factory default.
Today was his last day working on this secret project, and he was content in completing his 6-month contract, given to robots so that they can continue to work in more than one field. This was never the case for AC however; for some reason, he was always given disgusting, C list jobs from the Contract Breaker in the job center, that required him to clean massive messes of trash, scrubbing down cars, or handling sewers. All his life, he’s been covered in garbage or worse. You’d think a robot wouldn’t care, and a long time ago, they wouldn’t have, but at one point in history, some idiot decided that it would be a great idea to give robots and even higher sense of meaning, and created AI that could match human intelligence. Robots could finally think for themselves. AC spits in disgust upon remembering (he’s not sure how, having only a screen for a head, but the motion and the sound of this always helped when he’s feeling down.) He had never asked for this sort of life, always being brought down with awful jobs, and high expectations. At times, all he wanted to do was go home, sit on his couch and watch television all day. His favorite channel was a news broadcast station that lets you watch broadcasts from all over the world. He’d always turn it when the female robot hostess of Japan “Mimi” shows up. Despite all the awfulness it brings, a higher level of thought makes him glad to appreciate a beautiful robot such as her.
Snapping himself awake with his somewhat goofy 1930’s looking glove hands, he goes back to work finishing the final ditch of his contract. One mighty heave of the claw machine hoists is up to the sky and catapults it to a tower of dirt on what looked like a giant floating semi truck. After sitting in the cockpit of the machine for less than five minutes, going over his statistics and the completion of his job, a knock on his window suddenly shook him to the energy core. Outside was the human he’s been working for 6 months, but couldn’t be bothered to remember his name for some reason.
“AC?” boomed the human, his voice deep enough to shake the glass of the excavator.
“Uh...yeah. That's me.” Said AC, shaken by the human’s voice and power.
“Your time here is up,” says the human. “Head back to the job center and pick up a new contract”
AC exits the excavator, and hands over his old contract to the boss, who stamps it with a massive text: [VOID]. AC walks to the locker room and takes his duffle bag. In it, all his comics and clothes were still in there. He had no real use for the clothes, besides the fact that it helped him feel more unique rather than just another robot in a long line of models. AC then leaves the compound for the last time, not even bothering to look back at his first B list job. Instead of going straight to the job center, he decided to head home for a while, and enjoy himself for a bit before going back to the ever straining life of a working metal man.
AC’s apartment, which is found in a very poor, robot centric community, that smelled of crude oil and swarmed with rat-USB's, was his favorite part of a long day out. Inside is a bunch of memorabilia of action-adventure cartoons and comics, plastered on walls, placed on shelves, and overall consumed his apartment and always filled him with relief. He opens his duffle bag and takes out a pair of human pajama pants and an old t-shirt. The pants are covered in pink hearts on a black fabric, and his shirt had a pocket with a little cat poking his head out. He grabs a pillow from the edge of his couch and places it between his legs as he switches to the multi-network news station, and saw Mimi reading out current events in that cute high pitched voice of her’s.
Mimi was a short robot, with a kimono pattern on her body. Her chest was similar to a human, but was segmented by the joints in her shoulders, hips, and neck. Her legs were cut off from view, but on live segments when she's standing, it was in the shape of a human female's legs straight down minus the feet, which were replaced by wheels that also prevented her from falling down. Her arms wore sleeves, and she had very feminine hands. Overall, she had a human female's body, including her head, minus the features of a nose and mouth. AC’s favorite feature was her eyes however, that shown bright blue, and although they made simple expressions through arrows and X’s, he found them adorable.
Switching his audio input to Japanese, he began to watch the stories of the day starting with a rather big one:
“Today marks the final day in Nova Elites prep for one of the biggest off earth missions since the colonization of Mars!” Erupted Mimi, in her cute, bombastic voice. “The moon, one of the biggest source of materials in the helping of mankind's advancement into space, will be getting a much-deserved upgrade; its very own terraformation! Humans will be expected to live on the satellite in the next year, after the cleanup of the moon is complete, along with its terraforming. As we know, the moon has been littered with excavation projects dating back to many years ago, some still remarkably primitive. Scientists fear however of the moons feedback issues on the dark side of its surface, as it has prevented automatic excavation on a large area of the moon for quite some time. Nova, however, tells us that the feedback issues WILL be taken care of soon, as this mission is also to discover the source of the feedback and take care of it. Human astronauts Raes and Harriet Ennis will begin this long process by constructing an air dome city, in which to-”
AC then turns off the TV. As much as he loved hearing Mimi talk, he still had to go get his newest contract. Taking off his clothes in a careful manner, as he knows how feeble human clothing can be, proceeds to place them back in his duffle bag, and carries it with him as he walks out the door. As he walks down the sidewalk to the job center, he repeats the story Mimi spoke about and restates it over and over in his head. “Another home for humans,” he thought. “Maybe even a new source of jobs for me, if I’m lucky. Although, what are the chances I’d ever get to do something like that.”
AC’s walk to the job center is actually quite a short one but is almost always bustling with robots and humans on sidewalks, causing him to maneuver quite a bit. The buildings in this town are old, and for some reason, people and robots seem to adore it. Deli’s from the past along with old vintage record stores are filled with people in dark spiky clothing and crazy haircuts, and robots painting themselves in steampunk uniforms and prepped fully of gears enter the old libraries and parks as if they felt they were made in the wrong era.
AC grabs his bag tightly as he rushes through the crowd of flesh and plastic, as even more people cluttered the street than usual, knocking him around as if he was inside of a pinball machine. Out of the corner of his eye, or...camera, I guess you should say if you want to get technical, was an old tv from the 2000’s with the two dangly bits at the top that helped it get better reception. He climbs over the crowd like a snake through a field to see what all of the commotion is about. On the screen was Texan news anchor Les-Le Jones.He was known for smacking his boots on the table and pulling poses as if he was straight out of a paranormal action comic that AC had read.
Les-Le was the walking stereotype of an American, with his massive cowboy hat, brown sheriff costume, over the top Texan belt buckle, comically huge cigar, and boots with spurs sharp enough to cut through diamond. He had a mustache that was black as night, and his eyes were somehow even darker, with a bright green dot in each of them to simulate a pupil, and a unibrow that he could wiggle so freely that it looked like a snake could be crawling across his face at all times. In his booming pixelated drawl, he read out the news story everyone had been squawking about:
“Nova Elites starship has just launched from its platform at the top of that there Kennedy Space Elevator; the terraformin’ of the moon is officially startin’! Make sure ya keep yer dials on this station, we got plenty ah updates comin’ for ya’ll in a couple hours. So stay tuned, ya hear!?”
All around AC were whoops and hollers as robot and men alike danced in excitement for yet another planet to call their own. Personally, AC saw no reason to celebrate, since we’ve pretty much colonized most of this solar system, minus Pluto since scientists have been so on and off about that damned place for years. Regardless, they celebrating, leaving AC to duck and weave to the rest of the walk to the center. After squishing himself through the crowd as best he could, he began to break into a sprint to avoid more people from cluttering around him.
Finally in view was his local hiring center, a repurposed Centurion warehouse that stopped production after a certain point from Centurion overpopulation. AC looks up to see the smiling face of the original Alpha Centurion units, with their primitive dot eyes. Back before AI was implemented, all those units would do was smile and perform chores all over houses and office buildings. A simpler time, thought AC, even though he was never actually apart of since he was a newer model. He trudges forward into the building, trying to peer through the heavily opaque slide doors to no avail. As the door opens, Centurions began to flood his view, climbing stairs and running across from him with papers in hand. Centurions all of types were inside, with different paint jobs and varying body types made through upgrades that AC never sought to buy, since he prefered to pay for his TV and collections. He walks to the center of the lobby, with the same smiling simple robot face staring up from the floor, oblivious to everything going on around him.
AC marches forward, gripping his bag tightly, and with a stern expression. With the coming of human level intelligence in robots came some of its negative, primitive drawbacks, such as sensing weakness and preying on anyone who shows it. Humans have long since gotten rid of that habit, but robots are exceptionally younger, and fall victim to it easily, AC especially. He’s one of the only Alpha Centurion units that have stayed in their factory default mode. Some units change their colors, or add patterns and body upgrades to themselves. AC however spends his credits on stuff like actual human clothes and figurines. If that didn’t help, he’s always been getting jobs from the very bottom of the barrel, while most of the other units get jobs like year long cops, or 5 star chefs. AC silently hopes deep down that he can get more B-list jobs like his latest one to stop his ridicule. He could try and buy an upgrade, but he never saw the need for one, since none peaked his interest, minus a bilingual mod, forcing him into quite a rut.
AC stares straight forward and sees the end of the hallway leading into the dreaded Contract Broker. In there, he gets the greatest risk to his mocking, which is two robots named Bond and Ramsey (purchased names from Upgrades) almost always keep a watchful eye through the hallway door, to mock the poor trashy robot. There’s always the chance they weren’t watching though, AC thought to himself as he held up the contract of his previous job to his face, secretly hoping that it’d be able to block his face from the robotic duo.
Unfortunately, AC sticks out like a sore thumb in his default body, as the duo start shifting towards him from the crowd, in their sinister modified faces. As AC spotted them out of the corner of his eye, he began to analyze them out of fear, as he always does. Ramsey is a white clad robot, with an italian chef style appearance, complete with the tall poofy hat that replaces his old antennas, beady oval eyes, and a mouth that spread from one side of his screen to the other, leaving no room for cheeks. Bond on the other hand, is clad almost entirely in a greyish suit style with white mafia stripes down the entire was, complete with a red bow tie, a matching striped fedora, and on his screen was a pixelated pair of triangle sunglasses, that offered no protection to the sun, not surprisingly. His attempted speedup failed as they both create a wall from their plastic bodies, and stare down at him with malicious intent. AC looks up slowly, gathering his voice for the oncoming onslaught they would give him.
Bond grabs the paper from AC’s hand as he flinches back in fear.
“Take a look at THIS Ramsey!” shouts Bond, his voice modified to sound similar to a Boston mobster, or some snarky 1920’s slapstick tv show character, along with a horribly cringey amount of cliches and old world comments. “The little trash heaver’s gotten his foist B-list jawb! Good for him, yeah?”
Ramsey, with a powerful Australian accent in his voice box, and a tendency to shout, checks over the paper, and lets out a quick snort, that somehow shook AC to his motors at how sudden it was. “Oi! I remember this job? They had you doin’ this for your first B-class?” said Ramsey. AC, with noticeable confusion in his voice to the two’s sudden hospitality “Well...yeah? I can’t say it was the best job, but-”
Immediately, both of the sinister machines rock there heads back in roaring laughter, grabbing each other for support, as digital tears fell down their faces, with no use besides mocking AC for some reason. The confusion in AC’s head is now just fit to burst through the plastic molding. “Ok I-I’m just… I don’t really understand what the heck's going on here?” Said the overheating AC. “Why are you guy’s laughing at me when I finally get a job above C-rating, AND that hysterical amount of kindness you just gave? You have literally NOTHING to mock about me now.”
The two sticklers wipe their pixelated eyes from a howling fit that attracted the attention of the entire room, with eyes from all corners on AC, noticeably anxious from all the negative attention, shaking in his boots ever so slightly.
Ramsey is the first to recover, minus a few occasional giggles escaping. “Oh, it ain’t nothin too wicked, lad” giggled Ramsey. “I just never knew you were so akin to heaping piles of rubbish!” Another round of laughter erupts from Bond as he struggles to gain his footing.
“What ARE you guys talking about?” Shouted AC defensively. “I was making room for foundations and pillars, I didn’t touch a SINGLE piece of trash in that job”
Bond points to the community board on the other side of the room, with a smirk and darkened cheeks to simulate blushing. AC whips his around quickly to see the board smothered in papers and announcements for the world to see. He marches over in a huff, still upset over the sudden mockery, and upon reaching the board, scours the board for whatever those jerks were hollering about behind him.
On the very end of the board, peeking out from behind a notification about an update about current Russian units, he saw the smiling old face of his old boss on a poster. He grabs it by the corner and tears it off the wall, with the goons behind him picking up in laughter again. The paper starts to crumple and shake as AC holds it in pure anger, sadness, and frustration.
The poster read about a new trash disposal center being in development. In the poster was AC, in his excavator on his first day on that job, with his trademark deathly expression, pulling away at the levers. There was no way to recover from this, he thought, as he crumples the poster in rage, and throws it to the floor, while running away towards the supply closet, a million eyes it felt like on the back of his head, with an echoing laughter following suit. The tears still served no purpose, and they sure as hell didn’t make him feel any better.
The supply closet was one of AC’s most go to hiding place after incidents like that. Sometimes he hides in the bathrooms that belonged to the human workers of the building that robot’s had no reason of going to, which helped a ton when he’s trying to avoid them. Most any place away from robots is AC’s go to though, since he’s hardly ever picky.
Inside the exceptionally hot closet, filled with deadly, toxic chemicals and scents that harbored zero threat to him, he was reading one of his newer comics. He always sought inspiration from a hard day through these 2D companions he’s made, reading about their spell binding journeys, and tales of woe that brought them to the knees. He was currently reading a story about a girl that dreamt of being a witch, and tried her hardest to improve, despite her lack of talent. She gets her chances to improve, and is always brought down by hardships and the expectations of everyone around her. The story was about a beautiful change that people could make, if they just work hard enough. Sadly, AC was no person, but a machine. He felt no reason to take the advice from this comic, not matter how much he loved the girls perseverance in achieving her own goals, because he knew deep down, he couldn’t do the same. His one chance at a better job, and his past still clung to him. He’d never be able to escape it, and he knew that he would have to come to terms with it eventually.
After about an hour passed, AC slowly opens the door from the supply closet, and checks every corner in his view. No robots anywhere. Quickly and quietly, he once again clings his bag to him, like a small monkey to it’s mother, and dashed out of the room. By now, the job center would have a new set of AC units, along with Bond and Ramsey already having their daily dose of douchery, he knew he’d be in the clear for the rest of the day, somewhat.
Inside the job center was a conglomeration of new Centurions, as if the room had a brand new color pallet. On the second floor stood Ramsey in his Cafe for human workers and visitors, while Bond stood by one of the Cafe’s tables, giving a lecture to a group of Centurions dressed similarly, but less posh. AC, for the first time in his life, began to wonder if Bond and Ramsey even worked at this center, or if was just a ruse for something a lot more elaborate or illegal. Whatever the case, he ducks down in a crowd of robots just in case they felt the need to give AC another lashing, and he begins his trudge towards the Contract Broker.
The Broker is a separate room in the job center that focuses more on “higher quality” industry jobs, while other facilities focus on stuff like human care, and lower quality jobs like that. Although all the jobs AC has been assigned have been absolutely appalling, they certainly did pay well (just not well enough to brag about). Contracts are only temporary though, unless an AC unit is fit to work there through stellar performance, recommendations, or bribery. Since AC didn’t have the power or resources to do any, he just stuck with being tossed around with different jobs. Unlucky for him, the broker always had a line that could possibly be long enough to stretch across the whole state, so to save resources and time, the Broker works as a “Take a Number” type deal, as the units go around the Job Center till their buzzer rings, and they can be assigned to a job through random selection. The process itself took almost no time, it was always the line that would be a kick to the shins.
AC takes his number off the counter in the middle of the room, and proceeds to walk to the waiting room, an empty chamber of nothing but seats, TV’s and wallpaper. The waiting room was the last place units would be in, since they have the whole building to go explore, and sitting in a room with nothing but tv for possibly hours was the last thing they’d be fine with. AC on the other hand loved the solitude, which left him to his manga and news. Finding the remote on the counter, he switches it on to the news channel, but just in case, he switched to the American news station instead of Mimi’s, just in case any robot happens to walk in on him. The biggest American robot network belonged to Les-Le, and because of that, he’s labeled as the American staple of news networks, just like how Mimi is considered the Japanese staple of news. As much as he’d rather view Mimi, he would have to watch Les-Le’s reporting one more time.
Upon switching to the channel, Les-Le had his signature “boot on the table, pointing at the screen” power pose he’d use while yelling to rile up audiences, wake up late night viewers, or for largely important news:
“Nova Elite’s terraformation mission is now one hour in!” Boomed Les-Le, his eyes full of pixelated fire. “The spaceship’s FTL drive is now chargin’ full power to the process of pumpin’ that big rock full o’ oxygen, as Raes and Harriet Ennis begin the cleanup of those ancient, rusty old excavation tools of the past, and convertin’ it to metal for a rudimentary city on the moon later on in the year, the estimation bein’ about two months. All over the world, people have been takin’ to the streets and Internet with nothin’ but praise for Nova Elite’s surely successful mission in the stars! However, in related news, the source of feedback has not been found by the Nova Elite astronauts, but they’ve made the statement via radio that it will be resolved soon, and the moon will finally be fully recorded, and terraformed!.”
“I wonder why the moon’s been such a big deal lately” AC said to himself, as he turns to his comic and resumes reading. “We have like 3 whole planets to ourselves, why would the moon cause such an uproar?”
Nobody answered, thankfully, or else AC would have flung forward in fear and risked breaking something. The thought lingered for a while anyway. His best guess was the amount of untapped potential inside of the moon. Because of the strange feedback on it, half of the surface of the moon has been completely unattainable through automatic excavation. Robot’s could go to the moon themselves, but because of the upbringing of AI, robots need as much human or machine interaction as themselves, along with necessities like TV and reading, or else they’d go insane. It was too expensive to keep that supply along with the exporting of goods since the moon lacks a space elevator itself, and automatic excavation was easier since all those types of machines needed were fuel, it was deemed as a pointless endeavour. In fact, nothing with consciousness has been sent to the moon in years. That must mean the side we’ve been excavating is depleted, and humans, despite having so much already, wanted even more materials.
“I guess some greed will always stick to humans” thought AC to himself as he reads his comic further. He finished the earlier issue, and decided to continue reading the series as he waited for his spot in line to call up. Of course, it was suspected to be several hours before that would come into fruition. Thankfully, he had plenty to read as to help pass the time, since he spent his previous jobs credits on a bunch of new material, along with the rent, barely. He flips the first page of an older series, and read in silence for the rest of his visit.
Hours later, AC is awoken abruptly from a rest, his screen flashing to life, with a quick glimpse of a startup logo from the old company that had created him. He goes to check his number, but finds that it was no longer by his side, along with his duffle bag. Something else was off, as he looks at his surroundings, and notices distortions and small glitches in the empty waiting room. Thinking his camera was malfunctioning, he attempts to take it off of his face. Once his hand wraps around the invisible lenses on his face, it phases straight through him, and touches the chair behind him. Startled, AC attempted to hold himself in a frantic movement of his hands, to no avail, as he kept moving through himself. He gets off of the seat as quick as he could, and suddenly, flung himself forwards to the wall, as if he had just used some form of super strength. He attempts to brace himself, but as he flies to the wall, he suddenly phases through it as well. Past the wall surrounding him was a barren void, filled with lights and gas. As he swings his arms around in panic, he tries to comprehend his situation. Had he died? Was he floating through a purgatory made of barrenness and bleakness? No source of beauty but the floating stars and-
AC suddenly crashes down, as if his hit to the wall was extremely delayed. He hoists himself up by the arm, and looks around. He was in a hellish world. In front of him, machines were corrupt in their faces and their bodies deformed to monstrous extremes. In the middle of the crowd was a single creature. It was half his height, with massive hands, and a killer underbite. Its eyes shone as little red dots, and he had a pouch under his chest, that looked as if it were a stomach full of jelly. On top of his pimple of a head was an antenna, pointing straight upwards, with a bulb at the top. There was never anything recorded of this thing in front of him, he couldn’t even tell if it was a robot or a human. They exchanged gazes for a few moments, and suddenly, the monster quickly shot up his arm, and pointed towards AC. AC looks all over him in pure fear, his chest, boots, arms, everywhere. The last place he would check was his face, as he detached the cameras again, suddenly being able to, and took a look at the screen. As he checks, he notices something bright behind. He screws his eyes back on, stands up and turns around as quick as he could. In front of him was a giant flaming orange ball. His first guess was that it was the sun, and figured it might be closing in on them, or has started to die. But that wasn’t the case. AC looks around him in detail for the first time, and at the machines that gave him a gnarled death stare. They were the automatic excavation teams send to space during the mining of the moon. That meant, he had somehow landed face first on the satellite. AC checks the flaming ball again, and slowly makes a grim realization.
That ball really couldn’t be the Sun. The Earth had somehow been completely eradicated.