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The Robot Meetings


by jumperlilo

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The new Neohome had been built: two Bamboo rooms, a Jelly room and a cardboard box. Cyber focused in on his siblings as they rushed to the Jelly room and tried to fight over who got it, till their owner came over and told them they had the Bamboo rooms. Cyber felt his electrical current quicken, wondering if he was going to get the special room. It seemed likely, as his owner took his hand, but then, all in a second his hopes were dashed, as he was led over to the box of a room. He stared at it for a while, then creakily turned his head towards his owner, trying to register her emotion. Was she feeling hate? Did she hate him so much as to put him into such a space?

     "Here you go, Cyber," she said, smiling. She seemed content. He was hurt by the arrangements, but she started to walk away before he could say so. Once again, his inability to create an expression (except those slight changes which took a while to manufacture) had left him all alone.

     His siblings were female twin Disco Shoyrus, which made him feel even more isolated from their family. But, at least they stayed long enough to talk to him, even if he always spoke in a dull monotone which usually made people walk away. They both looked happy as they bounced over.

     "Do you like your room, Cyber?" Sportacad, the more fashion-wise of the two, asked.

     "We're in love with our tiger furniture," Spartacod added.

     Cyber turned his head slowly around, and looked sadly at his room. He magnified his view, but it was hopeless, he could already see there was no furniture in there. "Why is mine so different?"

     The Shoyrus peered over his shoulder at the room. They exchanged a look, then Spartacod took the lead. "You're a robot Cyber. What does it matter to you in the end? You don't need comfy furniture, or nicely painted walls." Sportacad nodded along.

     He was unsure of what to say, so instead spent the time that they shifted uncomfortably about in working up the mechanics to frown. It took energy, and with the increased silence, Cyber had time to think about it all, and felt angrier. His core temperature began to rise. Sportacad noticed this from his front panel display, and raised her eyebrows. "Maybe we had better get our owner."

     He watched them leave though half open eyes.

     *

     Cyber had been standing outside the nondescript building for five minutes and thirty four seconds. His paws were crinkling the advertisement, and for the seventy seventh time he looked down at it, wondering whether it was a bad or good idea. There was only one way to find out.

     The room was dank and dark, and a bulb on the ceiling shook every time you opened or closed the chipped green door. In the middle of the furthest wall, a floating robotic Kiko was above a chair. He looked at Cyber, and all the other Neopets followed his gaze. The Blumaroo shyly took the closest seat.

     "Welcome…?" The Kiko looked at Cyber questioningly. For a moment he didn't respond, lost in a trance of amazement as he saw the Kiko could move his mouth so easily, just like a normal Neopet, except encased in a bubble.

     "Cyber," he said at last, but was quickly entranced again as the Kiko's mouth spread in a wide smile. Cyber could never smile.

     "Good to meet you, Cyber. My name is Circuitz, but personally I prefer Circ better. I can even make that an official name too, since I was abandoned some time ago by my owner who just preferred a Neopet with 'more personality', and so I like to think I can name myself whatever I want now." Circuitz chuckled at the memory. "A lot of people are quite naïve about us robots, eh?"

     They all nodded. A Robot Tuskaninny wheeled himself off a chair, into the centre of the circle. He spent a little time spinning his tail and arms, clicking as he prepared to talk. "Not always without reason, Circ," he said, following with a whirring noise as he backed towards his chair again.

     Circuitz nodded sympathetically. "Yes, I know some of you don't feel emotions, or even really have any thoughts of your own; you're just carrying out your life as a robot. But I think we can all unite in the feeling that we do want more. Us robotics need more understanding."

     There was a general bleeping of agreement.

     "Why don't we hear Cyber's story?" a mechanical Skeith said in a demanding tone. A little stream issued out of his nose afterwards.

     Cyber stood up on his tail, unintentionally activating his cheek heat patches, and reddening. "I'm in a family where I'm the only robot. My siblings are related to each other, but not me, and I feel left out. My owner doesn't seem to recognise that I can be just like them, but just encased in a metal shell. There have been a couple of incidents recently which compelled me to work up the nerve to come here. My mission is to socialise with others who can share these experiences."

     "Thank you for sharing Cyber," Circ said kindly. "If it's not private, do you want to tell us what these incidents that occurred recently were?"

     "First, my siblings have two fully furnished Bamboo rooms, and I have an empty Cardboard square as my home," Cyber said sadly. He thought for a moment, reliving the memory. "Then, yesterday, they went shopping without me. They came back with Noil Petpets, two of them. Instead of me getting one, I got a gnome. They said it's like me in a way, except inanimate."

     There was a delayed chorus of 'Aww' as all the robotics worked to move their jaws and activate their voice boxes. Then, everyone waited for the Tuskaninny to be able to talk again. Cyber was amazed and delighted as he realised that they were all patient, unlike his non-robotic friends.

     "Sorry to hear that Cyber," the Tuskaninny moved his antenna as he spoke. "What was the gnome like?"

     The Blumaroo thought for a moment. "It was cute. A Halloween Blumaroo one."

     "Then it was still a thoughtful gift, maybe? If they thought you would like it, and you did."

     Cyber hadn't thought of it like that.

     *

     Two weeks passed, with frequent visits to the Robot Meetings (the RMs). With the help of fellow mechanical friends, Cyber had come to the conclusion that though his family were a little thoughtless, they did care about him. But he knew that he couldn't be happy staying there.

     "Cyber?" It was his owner, calling from the nearby garden. She had spotted him waiting by the gate, and hurried over to talk. He stood, waiting, wondering what their final conversation would be like. Would she apologise? Would she try to make him stay? "School isn't starting for a while yet." She was looking suspiciously at his backpack.

     He had been working on moving his lower metal eyelids up, which had seemed to provide no use previously, but with advice from other Robot Blumaroos, he found it gave the appearance that he was smiling.

     "I'm leaving," he said, looking directly at her. She was frowning, and he was proud to see she was not only astonished at his statement, but also at his smile. She half-smiled backed, but she looked crushed at the same time.

     "You're leaving? Why?"

     He shifted the length of the metal stands in his tail, lowering himself slightly. "I need to find a family who understands me better. I hope you'll understand, now or later."

     She opened her mouth a couple of times as if to say something, but no words came out. Finally, her voice was a little cracked, "I understand Cy. We'll miss you." She leaned in going to hug him, then thought again, and patted him on the shoulder instead. "Bye."

     It was hard to turn his back on her. It was even more difficult to accept he had made the right choice; was she already planning for the next place to fill his space? A thousand ideas ran into his mind, and he categorised them, sorting though the suggestions of whether she was relieved now to whether the Halloween Blumaroo gnome would end up in the Rubbish Dump. When he turned to look back, she had already left to go back inside.

     He had intended to find a new home, one where he could be cared for. The Pound had seemed like a fine place to go to, after all he was used to living in a box so even if he was placed in a cage it would make no difference. But now he wondered whether anyone could provide that warm, cosy, loving house he had so desperately longed for; he had known his now-old owner for so long, they were family, and yet she let him go. Just like that. Was everyone this way?

     Slowly cogs forcefully turned and he let his eyes drop to the ground, zooming in on an empty can with prune juice leaking out. It was then that Cyber's first random thought struck, nonsensical and confusing; "Who would be eating a can of prunes directly outside our garden?" The preposterous rhetorical question reminded him of how well his RMs were going. He was thinking, like any old Neopet, and it didn't have to make sense and the questions did need to have answers. His 'brain-chip' had been re-wired to blur his thoughts just a little, to be slightly more realistic.

     Cyber settled on it. He wasn't going to go to the Pound, and he wasn't going to any more meetings, nor returning back to the dull brick house he had once called home. He wasn't quite ready to settle down anywhere new, or begin another orderly routine. There was a map playing across his visual screen and the thought of exploration playing on his mind.

     "Cyber, first Neopian Robot Explorer," he buzzed.

     It seemed life had only just begun after all.

The End

 
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