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The tiny room is burdened by an over-abundance of scrapyard paraphernalia, and is bound on two sides by a mix of recycled gym lockers and old filing cabinets. A single, narrow, utilitarian door provides entry, and the ceiling light, which once brightened the space, now lies dormant. The only illumination: a small technical lamp on the cluttered workbench against the far wall. It feels oddly warm and cozy despite the various piles of metal sundry, and for it's owner, this repurposed closet is a second home.
On the right side of the room, a waterfall of loose springs, clips, hoses, and pnuematic tubes cascades down the side of a blue filing cabinet. Stacked haphazardly atop another, rusted gears and engine parts. On the left, an old locker with an unhinged door, carefully labeled "SARTHAK" in dark purple marker on a narrow strip of withered Duct Tape. Propped against the locker's open front, leaning against a stack of worn, yellowed instruction manuals, lies the collapsed heap of a loosely assembled metal frame.
A short, thin, wire of a man stands hunched over a low table in the center of the room. Against the far wall, the table is the tidiest part of the cluttered workshop, with large heaps of rusted gyros and actuators on one side, and a half eaten sandwich atop a pile of pure scrap on the other. A classical workbench for the modern engineer; made of metal legs supporting a wooden top, and adorned with all manner of mechanical arms and instruments. A lone bare spot in the middle of the table, illuminated by the dim glow of a quantum magnifier, shows long, deep grooves and the worn grain resulting from frequent abuse. The focus of the tinker's attention, set directly beneath the light, is a small metal box connected with a mess of wires to two small round black discs of a soft fiberous material.
The plasma solder flickers on.
*flick, fiiissstt, fwooosh*
Perched atop a metal stool, the frail old tinker hunches over the device and sets about his labors. His balding skullcap stretched tight above his furrowed brow, he habitually brushes the ghostly memories of hair from across his temple, and reaches carefully to tip thin wireframe glasses into focus. The flicker of the plasma solder dances blue flame in the lenses of those tiny relics. Nowadays, a quick, painless procedure can repair ailing eyesight and enhance vision far beyond human genetics. And, for an extra pinch of Dust, a plethora of practical enhancements are available: night vision, infrared, magnification. No one needs traditional glasses anymore, but the old timer keeps a sentimental disposition, and the glasses are the smallest of his nostalgic quirks.
The low rusted whirring continues to grow louder
*wwhhhhiiiiiiiIIIIIIIIRRRRRRR* *Bzzzrrt* bien... bien...
Eschewing the cane at his side, the elder saunters over to the humanoid mass against the lockers, and gingerly sets the box with mess of wires into a tiny compartment near the top of the pile. He flicks a tiny hidden switch, and the amber light turns bright green, as the engineer mutters to the empty room, "
Listo mijo? *Shiick* *Shiick*
The whirring finally settles into a gentle low hum and two perfect ivory circles suddenly light up from underneath the brim of an antique felt bowler. Then, the sullen mass of metal straightens to sit upright, revealing a silk bow tie beneath a finely crafted metal chin. Raising it's head to look upon the tinker, it speaks.
Good day...Bzrt, friend!
Deliberately human in appearance, the automaton known as X-307 was designed with a singular focus: excellence in service, delivered impeccably by a friendly and familiar form. Hence the formalities, even when facing the engineer, a man intimately familiar to the android. Though not truly his creator, and in fact, more of a savior from the scrap heap, the former professor is as much a father figure for X-307 as he is mechanic. But the Robotender3000 model being incapable of expressing more than the simplest of conversational empathy, reflects upon the professor only factually.
An antique by modern standards, the Robotender series 3000 is the protypical example of an early service bot, with a decidedly human like appearance, and definite gender. A slender metal body of brushed metal, around a thin metal substructure intertwined with various sorts of wires and tubing. No real clothing, save the bowler, bow tie, and a slightly frayed cotton vest with silk backing, all black, of course.
A hoarse deep cough, before the tinker smiles widely, looking down the nose of his spectacles at the service bot. He's repaired X-307 for two decades now, having found him half disassembled in a storage crate behind The Starboard's dry storage. The proprietor of the lounge thought him inefficient and nostalgic, but the novelty of the bot brought in business, so he stayed.
The byproducts of Dust-based energy have made recycling and reclaimation exercises in altruism. Why reuse, when you can discard and have brand new? Better, more efficient, longer lasting.
Please mijo, call me Papa. Now run us through system diagnostics. *schick* *schick* It has been precisely 545... Bzzzrrt...days, 14 hours, and 37 minutes, since I last provided service at the Starboard Lounge. My voice synthesizer and...bzzzt...memory control module have malfunctioned, however recent repairs conducted by... Papa, have corrected many deficiencies and I'm...bzzzrrrt...currently operating at 83 percent of optimal performance. During my last operational term, my most frequent patrons were:
Eulb with 35 visits and 3 deliveries
GladDog with 17 visits
The list goes on briefly as the tinker nods and begins to cough loudly.
The Robotender3000 model is...szzzrrrt...several generations behind the latest in robo-service technologies. It would be prudent to cease operations and commission a newer model into service. I could facili...rrrrrt...tate the transfer of patron dossiers to my replacement and arrange for my own disassembly.
The old man glances sadly at X-307, as he places a ratty yellowed handkerchief to his face. A few violent fits, and the coughing subsides. The tinker slowly dabs his mouth and chin; small spots of red absorbing into the jaundiced linen.
... to be continued