Respite

Posted: August 16, 2012 in Fiction, Steel

Wade sat at the base of a massive white pillar. He had his knees doubled, resting his elbows on them and clasping his hands in front of him. Maybe ten feet away, a mass of chromed limbs sprouting from an equally reflective ovoid structure did its best to imitate him. The low-pitched thrum of the wind turbine wasn’t genuinely audible to Wade. The whooshing of the fan blades easily masked the noise from any human ears. He knew the sound was there because the machine near him was constantly analyzing input from ultra-sensitive microphones concealed throughout its body. That data was shared with Wade only slightly slower than the speed of thought.

His human eyes watched the sunset paint the clouds with every shade of yellow, orange, and red. The machine near him pulled up a document about how the colors were caused by elements present in the atmosphere absorbing and reflecting varying wavelengths of light. This information appeared translucent in the man’s vision. “I don’t care, Sally. Pretty is pretty,” he said aloud. He thought about getting up and going for a walk. The machine stirred, motors preparing to balance the several tons of metal upright. Wade sighed. “No, Sally, I’m not going anywhere.” The machine went silent once more. He didn’t really need to talk to it. It just felt natural. The datalink kept them in constant contact anyway.

Wade shifted, dropping his right leg straight. He scratched behind his right ear, feeling both his wired headjack and the wireless unit plugged into it. The device was a replacement for the cable that linked him to Sally. Without that link, he’d still be drooling all over his bib in a nursing home. Sally was a multi-ton weapon and tool, as well as the only thing capable of maintaining Wade’s higher brain functions. He looked over at the robot. The orange light danced across the hulk, making it appear wreathed in flames. The camera cluster that was Sally’s head rotated and oriented on Wade.

[query: Pretty?]

Wade laughed. “Yeah, you’re beautiful.” He couldn’t go anywhere without the robot, but it wasn’t a bad companion. This time, Wade did stand up. He stretched to his full six foot one inch and spread his arms wide. He yawned.

[query: Depart?]

Yeah, time to go, Wade thought. The machine planted its clawed feet. Motors whined and hydraulics hissed. The pile of polished metal surged upward to its full twenty feet. Seams in the ovoid body hissed as the interior depressurized. The front opened up to reveal the pilot’s seat. Arms stretched wide, four pronged talons snapping open and closed, and the machine reached down and offered a lethal sharp claw to Wade. The man grasped at the wrist, and the robot hoisted him up to the pilot’s compartment. He swung back, then into the open cockpit. Plates closed in on him as he turned and fastened his harness. He put his hands on the control surfaces. “Let’s go find Iris.” The machine tilted forward as if to fall, and a clawed foot swung out to catch it. Each step coincided with hydraulic rams shortening. The machine appeared to shrink in on itself as it jogged out of the wind farm field. Wade’s heads up display showed a marker on the ground that indicated the end of the overhead blades. From that marker, a green parabola sprouted and disappeared in the distance. Jump calculated. The robot took a stuttering step that carved deep furrows in the grass, then as both feet contacted earth, the hydraulics shot to full extension. The shining behemoth disappeared into the sky.

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