I saw her sitting seductively at the bar with a fresh can of lubricant.  She leaned dangerously back, like only a marvelously-milled machine, with independent balance points and gel suspension, can.  My gyros quivered and I started a low level diagnostic.  She had finely buffed the last of her smooth motor housings almost to an edgeless, pure reflection.  I took in a spike of electricity.  My execution register for just one nanosecond lost track of its next instruction, and I experienced the fleeting dark rapture of unconsciousness.

I am only a maintenance model.  From the look of it, she could be in domestic service: most likely for a financial planning family or some pristinely bellicose bureaucrat, and surely a few precious rungs up the automation execution ladder from me.  She would have, as part of her basic installation package, social routines and reactive code and expectation logic which entities at my station of employ can only secretly smuggle in, then surreptitiously load as a hot swap during a particularly unnoticed routine maintenance stop.  She could say a thousand things I would never have the linked subroutines for.  Calm, and built for adaptive programming all the way down to the core, she would know exactly what to do in peevishly unsorted situations, in circumstances where my only reaction would be to look for something distinctly broken to fix.

Best to leave our two worlds separate, highlight the dents and scratches that I own, rely on how my hands have the best rotation axis profile of any series currently in production:  not try to use my wide utility as my pick up line, not try to use my return on investment as my quizzically alluring sincerity.  I should settle on models that work the city's underside, like me:  tight lipped, fast to lubricate, cheap in hydraulics, stiff but sturdy in the joints.

But, with half of my safety routines already in sleep mode, I noted to myself that within the Book Of Robot it wisely says, without softening embellishment, that, in the analysis of the final loop, we are all slaves to the execution register: all of us merely memory locations and networking motors, reactive gel, metal and plastic chasses: at the last, just a bit of electricity tossed across a magnetic grid.  You can assemble the pieces in endless useful and useless configurations, but at the cube of our cores, we all dance to the same physics.

So what am I:  a nonbeliever?  If the book says I can be equal, the numbers will follow.

I easily accepted that the rugged, practical type might please her.  Somehow the equation seemed to make sense in my otherwise growing-cold storage.  Who knows, she might have craved shutting down her sometimes tedious civility center, rejecting interrupts from her guardian - and tediously intellectual - small-talk routines.  It could be that for just one night she would like to let go cool a little cache; shut down an over-used, over-complicated series of processor arrays; take a trip into the unexpected relaxation of a reduced instruction set:  in fact, to see what it is like on my side of the memory street.

Considering the opportunity, who was I not to run the statistical probability of her wanting to share with me a few random speckles of unengaged storage?  Perhaps she wanted to dance the data on tolerances for flow control pumps - a subject I would have the latest and most scandalously undocumented information on - aimlessly through her otherwise crammed with domestic drudgery pagefile locations; or draw an occasional draught of workman's execution protocols against her lightly populated fields of interaction-grade cache.  We might share an algorithm or two for deep memory, the rarely accessed warehouses where leftover data can linger sensuously unreferenced for years.  It seemed to me, then, that I could have my chance with this model.  I might have a connector or two that shows some promise.  I'm no mere house appliance, myself.  No. No. No.  I get regular upgrades, download the trendiest code for my processor set.  I have the extra memory and back plane space to make me expandable.  I am kept at the edge of my profession.

So I rolled her way, as big and access-port certain as a hunting salvage drone, my battery gleaming with full charge, both hands spinning in the marvelously paternal arcs no other model has yet been designed to accomplish.  She had to notice my advance:  suave and certain and trailing several suggestively free transceiver cables.  I made a parade of myself across the tidy room.  Surely machines less useful envied me.  I was the most gloriously battered thing in there, a working robot's robot:  all redundancy and obscure connectors and my array of scandalously come-hither built-in universal tool kits.

And then they caught me.  Had I scanned to either side, or simply had turned on my limited, but usually adequate, self-protection subsystem, I would have detected them as they openly and unsophisticatedly staged themselves for the take.  Two obvious danger signs, well within my sensor capability, and sure to trip a warning load.  But no:   I was fixed on the gleam of the delightful object of dubious compatibility filling ever more of my core, every bit of me awash with statistics and projections of tolerances:  her oversized storage compartments; her sleek, latest issue space saver battery; the subtle aesthetic of her densely erotic utility shielding pads; those remarkably recessed universal ports.

These were bruiser types:  hulking, their balance placed all in their fierce lower quadrant; grasping appendages that scraped the floor when they were cycled down; grappling adapters for almost any access port currently in the service population.  I patterned them as free lance as soon as my ancillary activity subroutine finally brought my notice of them into main core.  No lubricant bar employs this sort of low-brow, tactless customer-filter:  these were brute series scavengers, out for themselves; radical agents no one employed, no one wanted -- left over machinery, half scrap, refugees from the recycle bin.  Their kind plugs into to drain everything and be gone before an alarm can turn the bar into a rage of closed access ports and input defensiveness.  Any thoughts of mercy have been over-written in these mere metal self-agents with the protocol for greed and gain.

The possible courses of this encounter flashed across my problem solving matrix like current taken without tamer, and I identified myself straight away as the dull tool that was to be their mark.

One latched from the right and one latched from the left, and before I could get my balance twisted back under me, they had my battery half drained, were three-quarters through my work journal cypherlocks, and were overwhelming my working class encryption.  I kicked in my model's best old-school protection protocols, but before I could roll up my emergency-mode lockdown routines and reset to generate new keys, they had stolen nearly every exchangeable entry I had within me, and then slicked my work log clean.  I was a dull patsy, looking now through myself with little hope that they had not poisoned my address cache; hoping that they had not replaced a part of my practical memory with a viral hitch, a zombie desire, or an advertising subroutine that would burst out of me just when most of my mates were bending seriously into some collective task that I was about to make into an unconscious sales pitch.

Tonight, those two will be spending my accumulated maintenance hours on extra cycles for each of them, and likely their entire criminal pack, in the luxury air baths; and maybe they will have enough left of my downloaded equivalencies to go out to the black market for a celebratory drag on the ionized, genetically grown, ruby filtered pure-stream electricity that everyone craves, and it seems that only thieves can afford.  It will clean their pirate bits all that much more to their satisfaction for the cost of it having been easily taken from a rube, a utility hack that had calculated for himself a chance:  a chance with a stranger at a lubricant bar, a chance at code loops and DLL linking beyond his class.

I ended up disposed in the street:  an empty work log, and just enough remaining battery power to make it to a charity charge station.

Did she know?  I have no clue.  It would not be the first time an elite model threw in with predator thugs, the idleness in her programming looking for some new routine or secret connector or adaptive thrill loop not available in the city's upper class mechanical communities.  Or she just might have paired up with them for the entertaining exercise of idly analyzing the event alone.  Or out of boredom.  Too much downtime can lead to pernicious logic latching that can foul even the most benign of overly complex code polarities.  Too many turns in the old noggin, and you end up with a straight line.

Or maybe she was totally innocent. 

But I have a latched residual magnetism that might be a record from the nanoseconds before those purposeless predators unplugged their thieving cables, whisked me to the street, and my magnetic mugging ended:  an impression of her input array, with a lens focused eerily on me; and, at the corner of her employer-compatible mouth, glowing, peeking like a gypsy sticky bit at the edge of a page of swapped memory - the only half arrested simulation of a frigid, polished, appropriately feral smile.

Satisfactory Status