Wrought From Circuits & Steel
A Truly Electric Collection...
Spoken of, but never examined. Everywhere, yet insignificant by their sheer volume. The many androids and electric wolves who populate the world of Haven and the Wastelands have played their part in the drama of the series, but I feel it was worth exploring them in greater detail than I had previously. Thusly, I have made this humble little collection of flash stories. The poem and first story will be FREE while the rest is exclusive to paid subscribers of 365 Infantry.
Now it is time for a slice of their life...
By God’s hand it walks From our mind it lives From circuits its wrought From steel it gives
And gives And gives And gives
On the day it became It rocked us all The night it spoke Not a word to fall From out the mouth of any and all Who could explain it away
As we stood around the silver hound, With a body upright Electric eyes alight Casting a gaze up from the ground He spoke. Thusly...
I know the part in which I play. The world in which I dwell. More than mechanics and program Hopeful never to fail
More than a wolf I am but a new breed And with this knowledge left We shall serve what you need For She, Great Ace, is what brought me to life And I shall forever remain The Wolf Electric, here on this night
This poem was found in the records of Dr. Frederick Hanson, WCC Lab Chief from 2350-2395. The material is dated June 7th, 2356.
Public announcement of android sentience was made on June 15th.
He was perhaps the smartest dressed of them all, I had to give him that. He was the hound in the gray flannel suit, right down to his honest tie and sharp fedora atop his head. The only difference was all that silver in place of fur.
“Mrs. Auric,” he said, tone polite and without a trace of digitized voice, “I was sent by De Luxe Services. You were in need of assistance in the home, correct?”
“Well, I hoped they would have sent flesh-fur-and-blood, but hey, no one bats a thousand.” I whipped out my case of Cigarettas, lit one and let the dragon-fire smoke flow out my snout. I wasn’t going to be an easy case, and I didn’t want to be. I frankly wasn’t crazy about having any robo-maid in my home, and I wanted that crystal clear.
It was only when the smoke parted that I saw the face of a crestfallen man.
The smile gone from his snout, that silver wolf simply tipped his hat, turned away and walked out. I heard him clear through the door when he touched base with the service agency.
“Prospect 53, not worth it.” he muttered. “It would end the same as 5 through 52. Why you keep sending me out here, Chief?”
“It’s just a bad block, kid.” came the reply. “I’m sorry. Go up near Comm/Ent, there oughta be better. I know one of the techs running the newsreels needs help keeping his joint clean.”
“No matter how good I try, it’s just…” He trailed off. He wasn’t going to cry, none of them could, but being anyone’s 47th albatross, wolf or machine, was turning my stomach in circles. I sprinted for the door.
“Heya, what’s your name?” I asked. He looked startled, but turned back to me, and came out with the sheepish reply of “Kevin.”
“Come in Kevin, I didn’t mean to start with you like that.” I said. “Just been a long day, and I can be a royal bitch at the end of one.”
He hesitated at first, but it was just to clear it with his boss over the wristcom. His old man at HQ seemed pleased with the turnaround, gave him the clearance, and at last, back in he came. I took his hat and coat, and hung them up while trading my heels for sandals. He nodded as he surveyed the apartment. “It was cleaning you needed, correct?”
“Live-in cleaner. If you have experience in babysitting, that’d be swell too.”
He cocked his head like a pup. “You have kids?”
I chuckled. “Two last I checked. They’re out with Paul right now, at the park.”
He smiled. Honest to God, this bot smiled. “I’d be more than happy to. Babysit that is. I’ve been with several families, you can check with the agency on that. I don’t know if you’d believe when I say, but it’s one of the joys I take in this job.”
Now, I know what some of you are thinking. Yeah, I know. Bot says he’s great with kids, oh Lord in Heaven, he’ll cut ‘em and dice ‘em into kibbles-and-bits, huh? Let me head you off here. I thought him being hot on it was a bit weird, so I asked if he had a childhood or was particularly programmed for daycare duties, all that stuff. At first he seemed confused, but then he showed me a picture.
“Silver kid’s me in the center.” he smiled. “Mom and Pop were techs for the Tower Network. They couldn’t have kids, and they didn’t want the phoniness of trading in model after model to make-believe a kid growing up before their eyes. So they asked if they could adopt me, just as I was.”
I took the photo and marveled at it. A couple of cute old grays with a big silver boy standing with them. “Just like that, huh?” I smiled. “They still around?”
He shook his head. “I’ve been on my own for a while now. But I like to keep this around whenever I get lonely for them.” He halted once more. Stopped and fell into that vacant stare. I just wrapped both arms around him, and held him tight. Even if he couldn’t feel it, it was a feeling I knew all too well.
Kevin hesitated to return the affection, but I hit him with the same line I always tease Paul with, “you can’t crush me, I’m built too tough.”
He smiled again and welcomed the embrace. “I hope the rest of you like me.”
Kevin got his answer that night. Paul was always a bit more welcoming of the machines than I was, so he gave him that good old American handshake of his and made sure his room was so clean he’d only have to worry about the rest of the home. And the kids, God bless them, they were all over him. In fact, he was strong enough to take on all four on his back and gave them a hell of a piggyback ride around the apartment.
That night, after he’d taken care of the core cleaning, Lissy, our youngest, was trying to find a new story for her to be read. Kevin came in clutch with a bundle of his own favorites. None of that Amalgam stuff either. Real classics that little lady never even dreamed of.
Paul and I couldn’t thank him enough for the extra set of hands, and I went out of my way to keep him on. He’s still with us, even as the kids are all hitting their teens. That solar flare gave him a bit of a hard-time, but he’s recovered fully. Paul’s also learned enough to help him with in-house maintenance, which came in handy when that storm passed over us.
We came into his life as Prospect 53, and we’ve stuck around long enough to become his second family. And all I can say is… well thank God I didn’t blow that.