“Tin One, are you a boy or a girl?” Gabriel asked, as they snuck beneath the shattered pictures of bygone life.
“I have no assigned gender. I’m neither male nor female.”
“Well, I think you should be a girl. I’ve got a brother, now and I want a sister. Is that okay with you?” Gabriel said.
“It does not matter. Whatever the prime or secondary operator wants.”
Gabriel stopped walking and looked down at the floor like he’d dropped something.
“You’re actually nice to me, like my mom was and all. I guess that just reminds me of her, that feeling,” he said.
Tin One noticed Gabriel’s chest tremble.
“Okay,” Tin One said.
The entrance to the show room was through a hallway and pair of double doors, which had been ripped off their hinges and melted into the adjacent walls. Their hinges were twisted and deformed, as if they had been liquefied and pulled like clay. The floor and ceiling, which was low in the entryway, had a similar distortion.
“That would’ve been a Earthbound,” Gabriel said, nodding at the damage.
“I am confused by your statements earlier considering them, are they still in proximity to this location?” Tin One said.
“We’re cryptic because we don’t actually know. Raph swears they’re mostly dead, but we can’t be, well, certain,” Gabriel said.
Gabriel looked back down the dark hallway they’d just traveled down. He squinted beneath his goggles. A bit of lightning from the outside cast a quick purple across the walls. A few pink, and bulbous vines reflected the fissures of illumination. Their slimy veins were threaded through the ceiling
“These weren’t here before. Or since the last time I’d explored.” He said.
“Another product of the Earthbound?” Tin One said.
“Perhaps,” he said. He knelt down to the floor and put his ear on the floor tiles. They were grimy with dirt, pebbles, and bits of soggy paper.
“Interesting,” he said. Tin One didn’t know if the word was aimed at him or anyone.
“You can ask me to activate my sensors whenever it is required,” Tin One said.
“Oh, I know. Just, well, old habits and all. Not used to actually getting help sneaking around the factory.” Gabriel replied.
They entered the showroom and sprinted to a nearby wall on their right. More thunder with violet lighting shook the factory. The leftover storms from the Nukes and the Earthbound were an endless violence. Even Tin One was beginning to be afraid of the current setting.
“Could my sensors accurately pick up the Earthbound you’ve described?” Tin One asked.
“Technically, by sound like earlier you should be able to, but a bunch of our technology was rendered useless against them. I’m not sure if you’d be able to or not, they were undetectable by a bunch of different ways. I mean, they had been living beneath our feet for a million years,” Gabriel said.
“I understand.” Tin One said.
The ceiling was high and cavernous in the product showroom where they were travelling. There were windows cut into the sloping roof in rectangles just above them. All of them were shattered, with trails of rain pouring inside and catching the maelstrom in flashing traces. Throughout the gallery were dozens of stone pedestals standing like teeth. Atop them was every type of robot imaginable.
Factory 9 was famous for its manufacturing capabilities when it came to artificial intelligence. Nursing Droids, Delivery Drones, Servant Androids, War Machines, were all represented atop these square altars to technological advancement. Currently, in the apocalyptic present, many of these display models were destroyed or cannibalized. Survivors had used them in an effort combat the Silent Ones. The only robot that wasn’t completely destroyed in the showroom was a model of Tin One, which was only missing its head.
“Raphael used that part to get you running. It was easier than trying to switch parts into the display version. Much easier. Raph’s pretty good at all that technical stuff. Before the apocalypse, he used to sit in his room and watch videos about repairing stuff. Mom and Dad used to yell at him all the time to get outside and play like I was, but he never did. Guess it came in handy,” Gabriel said. He again was staring at the floor when he spoke, as if he were looking into another world.
“Is that life sign still ahead?” He said, looking up at the robot. His goggles shook and he was blinking furiously.
“Affirmative, just at the end of the room,” Tin One said.