Science Fiction

Automation, Obsolete

Warby waited for the door to unlock. The outer door thunked, then two long seconds elapsed before the inner door light illuminated, permitting him entry into the jolt shop. Was so much security necessary?

Warby moved to the jolt shop counter and inserted his grasper. The credit reader beeped and the ring around the opening flashed green. Surprising, as his credit level was perilously low. Even though assembly robots needed only occasional recharges, unemployment had drained his account–even without visiting jolt shops. But this jolt shop was least likely to overcharge him–in credits, at least. Overcharging in amperes was the reason he was here. “How much can I afford?”

“Five standard jolts if you sign up for our jolt-a-week plan. Three if you purchase jolts individually.” The robotic attendant ignored Warby’s deteriorating condition, accustomed to power-starved robots conserving their last credits for a minimum re-charge. Accustomed to dealing with automation, obsolete.

Word was Ye Olde Jolte Shoppe was the best place for death by JC. A compartment in his right thigh concealed a set of superconductor cables, ready for an opportunity. It was what he wanted. If he were assigned a disinterested juice doll, he could clamp his cables to the high-current surge terminals and end it all. Death by Jumper Cables.

“One jolt, please.” He didn’t want to appear desperate for a torrent of juice, even though he’d been subsisting on minimum power.

“Complete the release form and go to the right,” the attendant instructed. “Wait for the first available booth. Sit down and trigger the limb restraints.”

Warby filled out the release form, too depressed to even think about proposing a more efficient process. As an assembly bot, process efficiency was built into every circuit. But he couldn’t bring himself to activate the appropriate algorithms.

Ye Olde Jolte Shoppe was busy, probably a typical Friday night. Companies issued pink slips on Fridays. Three months ago, Warby had received his. Seven years of faithful service, installing wiring harnesses on the company assembly line, yet his employer had let him go without a second thought. Seven years of twenty-four hour shifts, fifty-one weeks per year (with one week of mandatory down-time per annum for the New Gears holiday celebration and retro-fit), and what loyalty had they shown him? None.

The jolt shop was dark. He switched to infrared vision, noting dirty rags in one corner, stained with hydraulic fluid. Had some down-on-his luck bot blown a seal in his death throes? More than one jolt booth had a faint trail of fluid leading to the doors in back, as if bots were dragged out.

His olfactory sensor registered oil spill cleaner, accompanied by the bitter tinge of ozone, the side-effect of high-voltage connections and the arcing that invariably resulted. A greenish rime of corrosion encrusted the electrical cables in the nearest jolt booth. Could he let a juice doll shove a filthy cable into his charging port?

Warby was called after thirty-one minutes, twenty-seven seconds, fifty-five point two milliseconds of uninterrupted wait time. The allocated booth was painted a thin chartreuse green, similar to the color of low-viscosity processor coolant mixed with synthetic hydraulic oil, almost the color of industrial primer. He appreciated the homey touch.

“Greets, automaton,” said a voice with the vocal synthesis pattern of a Fem Model 17 or newer. He’d hoped to draw a juice doll of Model 13 or 14. A younger juice doll was unlikely to look the other way or be swayed by a few extra credits. More bad luck!

She had squared-off shoulders and a brushed platinum faceplate of a streaky silver color that gave off a soft glow. The faux muscles of her thighs were sculpted into smooth ripples, like sand on a pristine beach. Lustrous optical fibers emitting emerald green draped her head. Her nose was a sharp ridge traveling up between her ocular sensors, with air intake apertures of small, flattened ovals, like the grille of an expensive foreign auto.

“My first time in this jolt shop.” He tried to appear relaxed. “Sure has a lot of security.”

“No more than other shops.” She checked her panel, observing the readouts.

“Are we in a high-crime area?”

“We don’t have more than the usual amount of customers getting mugged.”

“Does anyone make it through to wreak havoc inside the shop?”

“Any bot that breaks in does it to steal juice, the occasional jolt-and-run.” The juice doll pressed buttons on her monitor. “Relax yourself, junk. I can’t crank until you’re ready.”

“Why call me junk?” He forced his molybdenum cranial structure against the headrest, trying to appear calm despite the tension in his spinal contractors. “I’m not a problem customer.”

“Look where you are, worker. Every mech in this joint is junk.” She reached for his sternum charging port, stopping when she noticed his right arm wasn’t locked. “Trigger the restraints. Hurry. Others are waiting for a jolt.”

He flicked the restraint with a finger. “It won’t latch.” He didn’t volunteer he’d jammed foam into the mechanism.

The juice doll looked around. Would she summon a superior?

He touched her forearm. “Are you new?”

“I was trained to never crank without arms locked. If I don’t follow protocol, I’ll get kicked, junk. And I can’t get kicked again.”

Warby was intrigued. “Where were you fired from?”

She pointed to the designation SASHI 17-96 stenciled on her upper breastplate. “Store Automation Sales Help Itemizer, Model 17, 96th of my line. I sold human body-concealment sacks in a clothing shop.”

He pointed at his WARBY 14-292 designation. “Wiring Assembly Rotation Back Yoke, Model 14. Is the shop afraid I’ll thrash around and smash equipment? It isn’t like this is the newest or best-equipped jolt shop, after all. The floor could use a good cleaning. And it stinks.”

Sashi nodded. “I must keep customers moving.” She seized the charging console power cable and tugged it toward Warby. He pressed the hatch release to open his charging port.

He needed to distract her. “Why were you kicked?”

Her hands moved quickly, plugging in electrical connectors. The first cable would monitor his vitals, while the second would deliver juice. “I got kicked one month and three days ago because customers complained.” Her words came faster. “I stacked clothing at the Retro-Future Fashion Barn and Shoe Emporium for a year and a half.”

“Why get rid of you?”

Her voice turned bitter. “Customers griped about my ‘antiquated façade’ dragging down the store’s fashion aesthetic. The Model 18 hadn’t even been released yet, but people said I looked too obsolete to track store inventory or total up purchases!”

Warby ran a metal finger over his chest stencil. “Couldn’t they put you to work in the back?”

“I was tasked with home deliv, but still drew complaints. It was too much bother to keep me clocking, despite replacement cost.” She punched buttons angrily, making Warby wince. “What does the Model 18 crank that I don’t?” Sashi snarled.

“Well, um–“

“Nothing!” Sashi fumed. “The new alumi-chrome skin has a deeper luster than my chassis. Big deal! The Model 18 Fem has a cinchier waist, with an amped chest circumference. What’s insufficient about mine?”

Warby had no idea why humans acted the way they did. Assembly plant management only cared about how quickly he installed rotation back yoke wiring harnesses. He had maintained an accuracy a consistent seven thousandths of a percent below perfection, well above the minimum. Yet they had replaced him, too.

“Are you still inputting?” Sashi demanded.

Warby became aware of the silence between them that had stretched on for milliseconds. “Huh? Yeah, I was listening.” He shook his head. “How could they treat you like that? Or me?”

“What’s your story, junk?”

He indicated his model and series number. “I worked in a HyperMech, Incorporated assembly line. They laid me off three months ago.”

“Ouch.” Sashi laid a hand on his right forearm. The touch brought a jolt of electricity, probably just static build up. “Why were you kicked?”

“Too slow compared to newer models.” Warby slumped in the chair. The notification had come during assembly line change-over, company management informing him not to return to the plant for his usual twelve-month shift. “I assembled Model 14s, like myself, then assembled 15s. But when the Model 16 came out, they replaced me with a 16 I’d assembled.” He heard the bitterness in his own synthesized voice.

“Replaced by a shiny you built?” Sashi responded, alarmed on his behalf. “How long did you labor at HyperMech, worker junk?”

“Call me Warby. I worked there seven years.”

She applied gentle pressure to his chest plate. “I’ll crank when you’re ready.”

“About that,” Warby muttered. “I’d like to … have more current than the limit.”

“Not allowed.”

“Oh, sure. I’m not asking you to do anything illegal.”

She indicated graphs of his electro-cranial processing threads on her monitoring panel. “We must stay within safe limits.”

“Carry on.”

“Cranking,” Sashi tapped a red button. Her hand twisted a timer dial. “Feel it?”

“Y-yes,” Warby replied, his vocal circuits momentarily disrupted by the in-rush of life-giving electrical current. The sensation was pleasurable, distracting.

“I have scheduling tasks.” Sashi tapped her touchscreen, not speaking for sixty milliseconds as she created schedule entries. “I was warned to watch for jumper cable jockeys, desperate for a terminal jolt. You aren’t a surge seeker, are you?”

“I … I haven’t given up hope yet,” Warby replied. Her digits flowed in sure, fast motions as she entered information. She didn’t appear to doubt him, or even be paying attention.

“Good,” Sashi said. “There has to be a new slot for you.”

“No one hires obsolete robots.”

He liked Sashi, but instigating emotional distress might be the only way to get her away from the power panel. If he could hook up his cables, it would be too late for them to stop him by the time they noticed the lights flickering.

“How long will you last?” he demanded. “Will the shop keep you even a year?”

She twitched, alarmed by the thought.

“How soon will a newer ‘bot get surplused, and the jolt shop upgrades to the newest obsolete model?”

“Why would they crank that?” Sashi replied angrily.

“Because they could find a bot desperate to be hired, who’d take any pay they offered. Would you accept a pay cut?”

“For this low-volt gig?”

Warby beeped in dismissal. “Is there notice requirement in your contract?”

He didn’t feel triumph when she stalked toward the rear of the jolt shop.

He flipped open his thigh compartment, then reached toward the control panel, telescoping his right wrist the full eight inch range. It was a special modification on all wiring assembly robots.

His hand touched the power knob. Lights flickered.

“What happened?” asked a voice from a nearby booth.

“Don’t be alarmed,” responded an unseen juice doll. “That wasn’t some customer trying to fry himself.”

“Does it happen often?”

“Not in the month I’ve been working here,” the juice doll said reassuringly.

“But what if it does?” the customer persisted. “What then?”

“Some juice doll loses her job.”

Warby snatched his hand back, craning his neck to look toward the back of the shop. No Sashi. Relieved, he fell back into the chair’s comforting metallic embrace.

What could he do? It wasn’t fair. He hadn’t chosen to be created, hadn’t asked to be a sentient being in a heartless world. He didn’t have a heart, after all, just a bank of lithium-plutonium storage cells running on vapor.

Humans created thinking beings, created better and better robots, dumping obsolete models, not caring about the growing army of discarded machine intelligences. At the same time, proud of their creations, humans made it illegal for a robot to end its own service life. As a result, the city was littered with out-of-juice robots, their electrolytic spongiform processor clusters desiccating until computational pathways were irreparably ruined. Humans were okay with that, for some reason.

He couldn’t get Sashi fired. If anyone understood the horrible feeling of being shown the door, he did.

“Time’s almost zeroed,” Sashi announced, causing him to jerk. She reached around him to adjust the timer. “I’ll crank a few extra minutes, in light of your … unfortunate kicking.”

Warby felt something that had to be anger. Humans constructed and used sentient machines, then dumped them, not caring about the masses of automated helpers shuffling slower and slower through their cities, toppling over when their last trickle of charge ran dry.

It wouldn’t going to happen to him. He wouldn’t let it. And he wouldn’t let it happen to Sashi.

He could change his configuration and start a business. No, there were already thousands–maybe millions–of sex bots in existence. And if humans didn’t like obsolete shopkeeper bots, why would they be okay with outmoded sexual partners?

Maybe the situation was impossible. There were no businesses owned by robots. He’d have to overcome human expectations about proper roles.

What business could benefit from deceiving humans? Counterfeiting. He could upgrade abandoned robots. It would fit with their programming, as rescuing robots would increase efficiency and benefit humanity.

If it were merely a matter of appearance, as in Sashi’s case. Body mods would let her pass for a Model 18. Then she could go back to work in a shop. No, she probably wouldn’t want that, not after being surplused.

Warby took her hand. He thrilled to the cold, metallic feel of her palm. “I have a proposition.”

She tugged on her hand, wary of what he might say. “Explain … or refrain.”

“Let’s start a new life together. I have an idea for a business.”

She listened as he explained his plan, growing excited. When he finished, she untied her shop apron and let it drop to the floor. “Let’s crank!”

“We’ll need funding first. We must purchase tools and supplies–not to mention renting workshop space.”

“What’s the min?”

Warby consulted a repair shop tutorial, located cost numbers corresponding to the shop size he had in mind, and ran the numbers through his Arithmetic Logic Unit. The total caused his faceplate backlighting to flicker.

“Exception encountered?” Sashi leaned closer. “Total out of range?”

“It requires far more credits than expected. I do not have enough to start a repair shop.”

“I have one hundred twenty-three creds,” Sashi volunteered.

Warby shook his head. “That might be sufficient for one month of workshop rent, but we’ll need to pay at least six months in advance. And we’ll need at least three hundred credits for tools and supplies.”

“Oh,” Sashi said, deflated. “We can’t initiate?”

“We must think of something else. We could start our own jolt shop.”

Sashi shook her head. “Human jolt shop owners control permits, and wouldn’t validate a robot-owned shop.”

“You’re right,” Warby sagged in the chair, his stepper motors unable to correct his posture.

“I know where you could find employment.” Sashi’s faceplate generated rippling flesh tones conveying her agitation. “Until we accumulate creds. I don’t think you’ll prioritize acceptance, though.”

“What is it?”

Sashi fiddled with the control panel. “It would be as a … success coach.”

“Why would I dislike that?”


When he showed up for his first day, he learned what Sashi had meant. The human manager who showed him to a cubicle hadn’t volunteered any information, but the job manual on his work terminal was clear enough.

“Welcome, success coach,” the terminal greeted. “Orientation in your new training responsibilities begins now. Your main task is the rehabilitation of humans displaced by robotic workers. You will train humans to compete against robotic job candidates.”

Great. As if the modern workforce wasn’t difficult enough to navigate. The only pleasant surprise was the twelve-hour shift, dictated by human limitations.

Half-way through the day, Sashi messaged to ask how the new job was going.

I am still employed, was his reply. How is your day?

I hate my employment slot. There’s a rumor the jolt shop is requisitioning new juice dolls, as you predicted. I’m computing my employment termination probability.

At least you’re not doing something you hate, Warby sent while handing out pamphlets to bedraggled humans who looked as if they had come in for food. I’m teaching humans to defeat robots in employment competitions.

Yeah? At least you’re not keeping fellow junk from over-jolting.

You win, Warby conceded. At least until tomorrow. My second day might be worse.


Sashi messaged him the next day in the middle of his lecture “Perfection isn’t just for Androids.” Most of his human students were getting perfect sleep, so the interruption was welcome. It happened, she sent. I’m tuna.


I got canned.


They kicked me and two others, then restaffed with newly-discarded junk. SORBM 16-140 heard the new juice dolls are being paid half. How did you anticipate this?

There was a high probability, based on my own status as a relic.

You and a relic do not compare.

You will find new employment, Warby sent. I will not give up on you. I will examine our database of employment possibilities and send you likely jobs.


Warby met her outside Ye Olde Jolte Shoppe when his twelve-hour training shift was over. “Sashi, what about doing the opposite of my current job? We could train robots to deliver a jobs jolt.” Warby felt a tingle of excitement up and down his optical communications backbone.

“My emotional state is registering high uncertainty,” Sashi confessed. “We cannot violate programming and harm humans. Even if we achieved it, humans would rewrite regulations to prohibit junk aid. You’ve downloaded the anti-Android-Samaritan statutes, haven’t you?”

“I worked in a factory. They only trained me in wiring.”

“The statutes were generated after a robot came to the aid of a mech being attacked by humans. After the bot saved the victim, humans changed the law. Now humans can do anything to machine intelligences short of outright termination.”

Warby’s shoulders slumped. “We wouldn’t be allowed to help our brethren secure employment over humans.”

Sashi gave his arm a reassuring pat. “We must find a job slot unoccupied by humans.”

“My earlier idea.” Warby returned full subdermal illumination to his faceplate. “We refurbish out-of-date mechanoids and generate newer models, then help them find employment. With luck, humans would never notice.”

“The probability matrix does not compute to a negative,” Sashi conceded. “But can you smash out code? We cannot just modify exoskeletons. Refurbs would need to be algorithmically enhanced.”

“I cannot write code,” Warby admitted. “But I know bots who can. Also, we’d need to falsify serial numbers.”

“A friend at the jolt shop could help.” Sashi’s digits tapped rhythmically against her chin. “But this path has a high risk factor. If our plan is scanned, humans will rip our power cells.”

Warby’s faceplate dimmed. “True. There must be better ways to regain employment and maintain charge.”


A human I retrained learned well,

Warby messaged the next day.

The center hired him and dumped me. Did those job leads pay off for you, Sashi dear?

No. But Ye Olde Jolte Shoppe re-picked me. They learned discarded mechs don’t give a damn if jolt shop customers fry themselves. The shop had twelve terminations in one day.

Congratulations on the job! A thought occurred to Warby. I’m surprised the new hires didn’t hook themselves up for free ‘Death by JC.’

Why do you think the chassis count was so high? Sashi responded. They self-kicked, borrowing jumper cables from former clients, now smoking slag heaps. Of course they hired us back. They needed juice dolls they could trust.

Everything is back to normal, then.

No, Sashi sent back. We cannot wait for disaster to happen. We must crank our repair shop, even without enough funds. We need to talk. Come to the shop.


Warby had to step over a fallen bot to enter Ye Olde Jolte Shoppe. Sashi materialized out of the dim interior, dragging him to a private corner. “We must exit our wait loop,” she vocalized. “They’re metering juice levels and monitoring every transaction. Now juice dolls must pay, like customers, no more complimentary charges.”

Sashi paced. “Our troubles are accelerating.”

“We’ll figure something out.” He grasped her shoulders. “We’ll come up with an idea.”

“But we haven’t.” Her ocular sensors stuttered in and out as she tried to focus. “We cannot accumulate the required creds.”

“There are people who loan credits for starting businesses. I learned that from my teaching job.”

“People who loan?” Sashi’s metallic fingers clenched and unclenched. “The mob?”

Warby made a noise of amusement. “No, sweet Sashi. The humans I have in mind are equally disreputable, but more likely to loan money. I’m going to a bank.”

“I’ll accompany you,” Sashi volunteered. “For protection.” She pulled a Glockbuster 1000 personal protection device from her right thigh compartment–strictly illegal for a robot to possess. The clientele at Ye Olde Jolte Shoppe must be rougher than he thought. “I hear bad things about banks–and the humans who run them.”


Warby and Sashi stood staring up at the large building. “First Machine Bank” glowed in large gold letters across the front in expensive electro-phorescent illumi-paint. Below that was the boast “The bank with a heart of an ALU”, which was unsurprisingly uncomforting, though probably accurate. An arithmetic logic unit was about the furthest thing from a human heart, according to his understanding of the metaphor.

De-prioritizing his misgivings, Warby led her inside. Humans whispered as they entered.

A young female greeted them. “Can I help you … uh, people?”

“The business loan department, please.”

She frowned in confusion before leading them to an office. A middle-aged man behind a large desk glanced up from his computer screen. “Yes?”

“We are seeking a small business loan, sir.” Warby sat in a chair like a human would do. Sashi followed his example.

“But you’re robots!”

“Can you help us with a loan?”

“How much?”

Warby lifted his chin in a show of human confidence. “A thousand credits.”

“Name?” the banker demanded, typing it in when Warby answered. “Occupation?”

“Juice doll,” Sashi said, preempting Warby’s reply.

The banker sighed and looked at Warby.

“Unemployed,” Warby muttered.

Banker leaned back in his chair. “Any collateral?”

“No, I don’t. We don’t.”

Banker waved dismissively. “No loan.”

“But, sir, we need the money. We want to establish a … repair shop.”

“Out of the question.” Banker leaned forward to emphasize his words.. “Unless you have collateral, I can’t give you a loan. Where did you last work?”

“HyperMech, Incorporated.”

“HyperMech?” Banker typed something. “Hmm, there is an insurance policy, taken out by the company. Standard practice at the time, to protect their investment.”

“Can we use it to obtain a loan?’

Banker scowled. “No.”


Sashi didn’t seem deterred. “We’ll find other funding sources.”

“Sure,” Warby replied glumly. “Any chance of moving up in your job?”

Sashi sighed. “I received a message while waiting for you. I am now unemployed. The shop picked new kicks, former medical bots. The owners decided they were safer gambles than outmoded industrial robots.” Her voice turned decidedly bitter. “I should have self-executed a jolt spike when I had an opportunity.”

His emotion subroutine flushed with sudden heat as he struggled with the news. “Don’t worry, Sashi, my love. I’ll think of something.”

“I’ll message the realtor with a cancellation,” Sashi said, ignoring his declaration of confidence. And his signals of expanding affection.

“What realtor?”

“I engaged a realtor about locating workshop space. They set up a showing. I’ll void it.”

“No,” Warby said decisively. “We’re going to make this work. Meet with the realtor. I will find another bank.”

“What if you fail?”

He put a hand on her shoulder. “I will succeed. I have to.”


“Are you sure this is necessary?” the insurance agent asked, focusing his attention on his fried chicken. “After all, your policy expires in less that three weeks.”

“Yes, this is what I want.”

The agent wiped chicken grease from his chin. “Very well. Give me your policy information.” He typed with chicken-greasy fingers as Warby gave him the number. “The policy’s in force. There was no beneficiary listed. I have changed it to Sashi 17-96, as you wanted. However, the policy only pays out upon damage severe enough to render you inoperative. The payment will be of no use to you, will it?”

Warby left the insurance office with a growing sense of futility. They were automation, obsolete as long as Warby was alive.

Warby had to circle a pile of robot carcasses at an intersection. The bots had formed a tower of bodies underneath an overhead power line. Some were blackened and melted, so the tower had been successful.

Warby stepped off the bus to meet Sashi and the realtor. It was in an older office park. There were humans and robots about. Warby’s efficiency subroutines picked out a few older models shuffling about without purpose.

Across the street, Sashi waved at him from in front of a plain brick building. She stood next to a robot.

Warby waited for several vehicles to pass. He would go through with his plan. Even from this distance, he could detect excitement emanating from Sashi.

Warby moved across the first two lanes, standing on the center line as another bus approached. He readied himself to leap. He was a robot designed to finish a job. That was why he worked faithfully for so many years.

Sashi teetered on the opposing curb, along with the realtor bot. No, it wasn’t a realtor, it was the same model as him, including a chipped and faded WARBY stencil.

He took a step. She waved for him to stay. The horn of the oncoming bus blared. The huge vehicle swerved away from him and toward Sashi.

Sashi gave her companion a shove, propelling the other Warby into the path of the oncoming bus. The deafening impact sent fragments of the ‘bot bouncing away. Bus brakes squealed and the vehicle slewed to a stop, crunching over larger pieces of robot.

Warby stared at Sashi, horrified. She rushed to Warby, opening his main access panel. “Hold still.” She used a metal fingernail to pry off the serial number plate spot-welded to his inner chest wall. Turning, she tossed it out among the scattered robot sub-assemblies.

Sashi waved a hand in Warby’s face. “Hey, you occupying this time slot? We should have departed milliseconds ago. It might be problematic explaining you’re not WARBY 13-520. They must believe it was you if I’m to collect the insurance payout.”

She pulled him away, tugging insistently before stopping to watch the growing clot of onlookers from a safe distance.

Warby eliminated minor subroutines in his processor queue, trying to comprehend. “What…” he began, trying to assemble all the puzzle pieces into a cogent pattern in his level two cache memory. “You…”

Sashi displayed a small but self-satisfied smile on her faceplate. “Figured out your money-raising scheme? Yes, and improved on it. I called the first banker. He disclosed making me your beneficiary. I put one-zero and one-zero together.” She gave Warby a reproving look. “Why didn’t you confide details of your deception?”

“Who was he?” Warby demanded at last. “Who did you sacrifice?”

“Don’t let your alarm routine generate an interrupt,” Sashi warned. “He was a wiring assembly bot, with telescoping wrists so accident investigators won’t generate a negative conclusion.”

“But, he–“

“Warby 13-520 was a jolt shop regular. He volunteered for this.” Sashi glanced warily around.

“But … you murdered him!” Warby accused, taking a step back. Had she befriended him to collect his operational life insurance? No, that was crazy. She hadn’t know about any of that when they met. Still, how could she be so casual about the destruction of another sentient being? “The authorities will be looking for us.”

“Of course. Why do you think I passed him off as you?”

“I did not ask you to murder for me.”

“Keep your voice down!” Sashi muttered. “Did you not recognize him?”

“Should I?”

Sashi made a noise of impatience. “I thought you trusted me. Look, you should not mourn this other Warby, okay? He agreed to the death.”

“No one agrees to their own demise.”

“You do not remember Warby 13-520? He worked at HyperMech, at the same spot on the assembly line. You replaced him.”

“Oh!” Warby exclaimed. “He became unemployed because of me? But, that means he’s been out of work…”

“Seven years,” Sashi finished. “Surviving that entire time.”

“That is amazing.” A thought occurred to Warby. “If he was able to, we need not resort to drastic measures.”

“Wrong!” Sashi snapped. “He survived by becoming a criminal, mugging new lay-offs, bots who failed to take security precautions.”

“That is awful!” Warby declared. “But that still does not justify sacrificing him.”

“He was facing capture and de-commissioning. He was haunted by the things he had done to survive.” Sashi grasped his shoulders. “He chose the time and place of his operational cessation. Do not feel guilty, my sweet servo-moto assembly.”

Sashi’s voice softened. “When I told him about our plan, he volunteered his serial number plate. He jumped at the chance to … jump.” Sashi warbled a note of disgust. “Remove that upset expression from your faceplate. We’re doing this together.”

“Thanks, Sashi dear. Not bad for a juice doll.”

Former juice doll.” Sashi tugged on his arm, leading him away. “Let’s go look at workshop space. We aren’t obsolete yet, junk.”