“Where is she? We should be out looking for the others not stuck sitting around waiting on a human to repair us. Go tell her to get out here,” Joy heard Lockdown saying as she approached the barn.
“From what I’ve learned about humans they need more recharge than we do, if they don’t get enough it can effect their ability to function. Do you really want me to go wake her when she hasn’t had enough rest and risk her trying to fix you and ending up making it worse?” Sunfire asked.
“Don’t worry about it, I’m already awake,” Joy said as she walked into the barn.
“It’s about time,” Lockdown said.
Joy deliberately ignored him as she kept her attention on Sunfire, “His head and neck are split in half, why can he even still talk?” she asked.
“Luckily his vocal processor wasn’t damaged, he may not be able to talk normally, but he can still speak through his comlink system and make that audible. Sort of like one of those cell phones you humans use that can be set so only you can use it or set to a speaker setting,” Sunfire explained.
“I’m not so sure his vocal processor not being damaged is really a good thing,” Joy said.
“Are you in a hurry to die?” Lockdown ask her.
“Why, are you going to kill me and leave yourself with no one to repair you?” Joy asked.
“I’m stable now, we don’t need you, our bodies will eventually repair themselves,” Lockdown told her.
“And you’ll go crazy waiting to heal, plus if my dad found you out here he’d drag you back to the lab he works at and dissect you,” Joy said shuddering slightly, “You wouldn’t be the first of your kind he’s done that to. The others were already dead, but I’m sure he’d love to get his hands on a living specimen,” she said then turned to Sunfire, “So what do I need to do next?”
“We need to start repairing his internal support system, it’s basically equivalent to human bones. My tools would be too big for you to safely use, do you have anything to weld with?” Sunfire asked her.
“No, my brother might, but if I ask him, he’ll want to know what I want it for,” Joy told him.
“Then just go and buy what you need, and do it quickly, being stuck in here is getting annoying,” Lockdown said.
“Do you have any idea how much that would cost? Because I’m not sure, but I’d have to guess it’ll be pretty expensive,” Joy pointed out.
“Sunfire take her to the vault, I believe gold is of value on this planet,” Lockdown said.
Joy looked up questioningly at Sunfire, but he just smiled at her and said, “Come on,” then led her out of the barn as the ramp into the spaceship appeared.
“This is amazing,” Joy said as she followed Sunfire deep into the ship, then gasped and jumped back as some type of strange alien creature lunged at the bars of a cage as she passed it, “What is that?”
“It’s going to be the pet of a very rich ruler of a planet a couple galaxies from here,” Sunfire told her.
“So you’re bounty hunters and pet wranglers?” Joy asked.
“We have our main quarry, but they’re getting harder to find so we hunt down other people or in this case animals for whoever is willing to pay well, it keeps the boredom away. Plus nonsentient animals are a lot easier to catch, most of the time,” Sunfire explained, “And this is just some of our payments from those jobs,” he said as he opened a large door.
Joy stood in a state of shock as she looked around the huge room, piles of various metals were stacked to one end of the room, while shelves along the walls held dozens of gems, most unlike anything she had ever seen before, some fashioned into varying sizes and styles of jewelry. Other shelves and cases were filled with hundreds of different types of weapons and things she couldn‘t even begin to identify.
Sunfire walked over to one of the shelves and extended a blade from just above where his arm was severed and used it to flip a gold coin the size of Joy’s palm off of it so it fell where Joy could catch it, “It’s solid gold, think you can get enough money for it to get the welding supplies?” he asked.
“Yeah, probably,” Joy replied as she looked at the coin, “It’s going to be fun coming up with an explanation for where I got it though.”
“Just make something up, knowing how greedy humans are whoever you sell it to won’t care where it came from if you don’t ask too much for it,” Sunfire suggested.
“You’re probably right,” Joy agreed then noticed another door to one side of the room, “What’s through there, more treasure?”
“That’s the spark vault,” Sunfire replied as he opened the door.
Joy gasped as she stepped into the room and looked around. Shelves containing dozens and dozens of clear boxes lined the walls. Most of the boxes contained glowing blue ball like things that seemed to pulse with energy, “What are those?”
“They’re sparks,” Sunfire replied.
“Isn’t that what you said that glowing thing in Lockdown’s chest was?” Joy asked.
“Exactly, they’re sort of a combination of a human heart and mind, keeps our bodies functioning and contains a back up memory core. Our minds and memories are stored in our heads like humans, but unlike humans if there’s damage to our heads that cause memory loss once the injuries heal the memories can be restored from our sparks,” Sunfire explained as he turned and led her out of the room.
“What are those sparks then? Are they from Decepticons?” Joy asked as she followed him.
“Some of them are, others are from Autobots, they’re just the ones who ended up so badly injured when Lockdown was hunting them that they couldn’t fight back. Technically we’re supposed to just destroy them all, but Lockdown says it doesn’t feel right destroying a bot who can’t fight back. He had me design a spark extractor to remove the spark without killing it, so he just takes their sparks and keeps them here. Don’t know what he’s going to do with all those sparks, if the creators find out he hasn’t been destroying them he’ll get himself into a ton of trouble,” Sunfire explained as they headed down the gangplank.
“You kill Autobots? I thought they were the good guys,” Joy said as they walked back into the barn.
“You can’t kill what’s not alive. Of course we hunt them, Autobots, Decepticons, they’re all glitched and make a mess of everything. They already took over and destroyed one planet, now they’re starting in on Earth,” Lockdown said.
Joy hesitated a moment trying to process what he had said, “Wait, I thought they were alive. And what do you mean they took over and destroyed a planet? I thought it was their home planet that had been destroyed.”
“No, they started glitching, ran off and took over Cybertron and destroyed it,” Lockdown told her, “That’s why our creators sent me to hunt them down. The creators feel responsible for the destruction that’s been caused and want to make it right by destroying all the robots who are glitching.”
Joy felt like her head was spinning, she knew beyond a doubt the intelligence, the life she had seen in the Autobot’s eyes and yet here was a bot she thought was the same telling her she was wrong, “Your creators? But you’re alive, sentient, you-”
“Of course we’re not, we are just far more advanced than anything your technology can create,” Lockdown told her, his voice taking on a cold tone as he said, “We are nothing more than machines, built to serve our creators, we are equipped with highly advanced artificial intelligence systems that are capable of mimicking many responses that make us appear alive to less advanced species, but we are not alive, we are not sentient, we do not feel emotions, we are just machines and our sole purpose is to serve our creators.”
The way he said it made Joy feel sick, it sounded so rehearsed, like he had recited it countless times before and had perfected making it sound as soulless as he was claiming to be. Yet his eyes seemed filled with such pain, sadness and despair that it seemed to counter everything he said.
“I should go get those supplies, may take a while to find a pawn shop to get the cash I’ll need,” she said then quickly left the barn. She grabbed her purse and keys from the house before leaving as quickly as she could, but still only made it about a mile away before she had to pull over. Her mind was reeling with confusion and questions, how could they not be alive and sentient, she could see it so clearly in the Autobot’s eyes as well Sunfire and Lockdown’s eyes. Talking to them it never even crossed her mind that they weren’t sentient, talking to Sunfire seemed no different than talking to any human, Lockdown seemed a little more reserved and stiff, but she had a great uncle who had been in the military most of his life who showed less emotion than Lockdown did. Maybe it was because she had spent so long arguing with her father that the bots were sentient or maybe it was just that she was too stubborn to believe she had been wrong, but she just couldn’t make herself believe that they were just advanced machines.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
“I’m back,” Joy said as she walked into the barn a few hours later.
“What took you so long?” Lockdown demanded.
“I had to go to a couple pawn shops to find one who would take that alien coin, most of them assumed it wasn’t really gold or thought I had stolen it. Then I had to get the welding supplies and have them show me how to use them,” Joy explained, “Why, are you angry that I took so long? Impatient to get fixed? Don’t like being stuck sitting around bored with nothing to do?”
“Of course I am, now get to work,” Lockdown ordered.
While Joy started to set up the supplies she said, “You know anger, impatience and boredom are emotions, how can you feel those things if you’re not sentient?”
Lockdown actually looked caught off guard for a moment, but quickly recovered and said, “As I said before, we are equipped with a highly advanced AI system and are programmed to respond to situations as if we were sentient.”
“So how do you turn that off? Because it would great if I could change your programming so you’re not so impatient and grouchy.”
“Only our creators can interfere with our programming,” Lockdown said as if she were stupid for not figuring that out on her own.
“So why haven’t they made you more polite?” Joy asked, “Have you ever actually seen them alter a bot’s personality or the way they respond?”
“How do you know they can then? What do they do if they don’t like the way one of you is acting?” Joy asked.
“They just destroy any who aren’t working right.”
“So you’re these super advanced robots, but instead of trying to fix you if you stop working right they just kill you even though you claim they have the ability to reprogram you?”
“You can’t kill something that’s not alive, reprogramming is just more trouble than it’s worth,” Lockdown replied.
“Have you ever seen them building more robots like you?”
“I’ve never seen them building them, but I’ve seen them bring new batches in for training,” Lockdown told her.
“So they constantly make more?” Joy asked.
“No, they make them in batches and then won’t make more for a while.”
“When was the last time they made more?” Joy asked.
“Probably about five thousand years ago,” Lockdown replied.
“Why haven’t they made more?”
“I don’t know, it’s none of my business what the creators do,” Lockdown replied irritably, “Get to work before I decided you’re too annoying to allow to live.”
“Just one more question. How long ago was it that the Autobots and Decepticons wiped out their populations on the planet they took over? Got it to the point that they were all living in hiding or whatever and there were no more pockets of decent sized populations living in the open?” Joy asked although she already had a pretty good guess what the answer would be.
“What does that have to do with anything?” Lockdown demanded.
“I’m just curious,” Joy replied.
“I don’t know, probably five thousand years ago. Now get to work,” he ordered.
“Alright, alright. Sunfire what do I need to do here?” Joy asked before setting to work.