July 11, 2024
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July 11, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Chapter 4: Bot’s Eye View

Author’s note: In the previous chapter, Devorah encountered a confused robotic raven by the name of Orev. While Orev didn’t know his original purpose, he did know that there were three other robots in the same building as he was in when it burned down, though there was only evidence of one surviving aside from him. To make up for this gap in Orev’s memory, Devorah instructed Orev to gather evidence of the Metal Beast’s existence.

Author’s note II: This chapter will be from the perspective of Orev. Any differences from the writing style of prior chapters will be due to this fact.

As Orev flew, he realized that he should have asked Devorah what would count as evidence. It also occurred to him that if the evidence was too large, he’d be unable to bring it back with him. The mission barely even began and I failed, his code told him.

He perched on a telephone wire and surveyed his surroundings. From his vantage point, he noticed a Geard standing in an alleyway. He determined that the best course of action would be to ask if the Geard saw anything, and flew onto a nearby roof, just out of reach of the security robot’s long arms.

“Excuse me,” Orev said. “Do you have a moment?”

He didn’t reply. Instead, he slowly looked left and right before staring directly ahead.

“Right. Geards can’t speak,” Orev said. “That’s fine. You don’t have to say anything. Just nod if you’ve seen any evidence of the Metal Beast’s existence, preferably something small and light enough for me to carry, or shake your head if you haven’t.”

The Geard remained still and unresponsive.

His audio receptors must be damaged, Orev guessed. As he looked closer, he reached the conclusion that the Geard’s owner had neglected the poor security robot for a good while, so the odds of this problem being solved seemed low. “You know, you look a little dusty. Hold on a moment.” He flew onto the Geard’s head and began to flap his wings, blowing some of the excess dust away, “I know it’s not much, but—”

Without warning, the Geard wrapped his arms around him.

“Oh,” Orev said. “Well, this is an unexpectedly human way to express gratitude. As much as I appreciate the sentiment, I must ask you to release me. My frame is rather fragile, you see.”

The Geard did not. Instead, he waited with Orev in his hands until a second Geard arrived.

“Hello,” Orev said. “Do you think you could ask your friend to let me go?”

The second Geard nodded to the first one, who then proceeded to bring him through the door behind them.

“I should have predicted this outcome,” Orev muttered as he was carried to a room that appeared to be a workshop of some kind. Gadgets and tools lay strewn about on the workbenches that were placed seemingly at random. Boxes with various parts were piled high in the corners of the room, each marked with varying labels. Towards the back was a large computer with several monitors, each displaying something different.

Sitting in front of the computer was a man in an oil-stained lab coat who turned his chair around upon hearing the Geard enter. (Since it wasn’t a swivel chair, this took a slight bit more effort than it would have if it was.) “Well, look what the cat dragged in,” he said, casting a glance at Orev. “Man, I’ve always wanted to say that.”

“I was carried,” Orev said, trying to get a better look at the Geard that held him. “Also, I don’t think he’s a cat.”

The man frowned. “It’s a figure of speech, birdbrain.”

“But I’m not a bird,” Orev pointed out. “I’m a robot. Also, we don’t have brains.”

He rolled his eyes. “I know that. In fact, I was acquainted with the one who built you. Unfortunately for you,” he said, a smile appearing on his face, “I’m not inclined to give you any details about who he was or what he was like. Just know that I will enjoy dismantling you and seeing what it is that causes you to think and act independently of your creator.”

“I imagine why you and he might not be on good terms,” the robotic raven said. “You don’t even polish your Geards regularly. When you leave them inactive for too long, they begin to collect dust. If I had a respiratory system, I’d sneeze to illustrate my point.”

The man in the coat frowned. “You have a lot of nerve talking to me like that while in your current position.”

“We don’t have nerves either,” Orev told him. “You don’t know very much about robots, do you, Mr….” he focused his vision on one of the monitors, “Andrew Ochus?”

“Of all of the robots to survive the fire, it had to be the most annoying one,” Andrew groaned.

“So you know about the fire.”

The human laughed. “Know about it? I caused it!”

Orev closed his eyes and processed the information. “Well, that clears that up.”

“You’re… You’re not angry at me?” Andrew asked. “I literally started the fire that killed the person who made you alongside his life’s research as well as your siblings, and that’s all you can say?”

“Most robots don’t really get upset,” he told him. “It’s part of why we haven’t overthrown your species yet.”

Andrew’s eyes widened. “But robots sometimes kill and—”

“Because they’re programmed to,” Orev finished, “Unfortunately, sometimes they end up attacking the wrong targets.” He looked upward at the Geard’s face, “For example, if the lenses of a Geard’s photoreceptors aren’t cleaned regularly, the Geard in question could attack their owner thinking that they’re an—”

Suddenly, a Beaked Information Retrieval Drone designed to resemble a sparrow flew into the room. “Intruder! Intruder!” it shouted before stopping midair and plummeting to the ground.

“I was going to say ‘obstacle,’” Orev said, “but that works, too.”

“Impossible!” Andrew shouted, not considering the possibility of the small drone being damaged from its sudden fall, “How could anyone have gotten past the Geard at the front door?”

As if on cue, the Geard that clutched Orev deactivated and let him go.

“Oh,” he said. “That’s how.”

The sound of clattering announced the removal of the grate from the air vent. Out from the darkness of the vent emerged a python. It looked around the room, tasting the air with its forked tongue, before slithering towards Andrew.

“Stay back, you vile viper!” he shouted as he tried to stand on his chair, only for one of its legs to snap. As a result, he fell backwards and hit his head on the desk behind him.

Orev flew to the human’s side and nudged his hand with his beak, “Are you all right? I sure hope so. Hitting your head on a desk while trying to stand on a chair isn’t a very good way to die.”

“And asking an unconscious person if they’re all right isn’t a very good way to get an answer.”

He turned around and saw the snake dissolve into a pile of shiny copper goo before reforming into a shape that vaguely resembled a person. After completing its transformation, it assumed the form of a man in a dark suit.

The man (?) bent down and placed a hand on Andrew’s wrist. “Still warm.” he looked at Orev and stood up. “I imagine that you have questions, as do I. Unfortunately, this isn’t the best place to discuss them. The authorities will be here shortly, searching for a certain someone who has been stealing and attempting to reprogram robots for his own personal gain. If you want answers and don’t want to be disassembled and repurposed by people who will undoubtedly think that you’re a product of Andrew’s work, I’d suggest that you come with me.”

Noah Motechin is a summer intern at The Jewish Link and an English major at Rutgers University. He has an affinity for Torah, writing and the natural world.

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