The robot maintenance shop I run services a special kind of client. A typical shop sees owners bringing in their favorite bots for some cleanup and repair. But the robots who visit me come on their own. Which may perhaps seem odd—it is not often one sees a robot without its owner, but I assure you, that is not what is odd. What is odd is that my clients come to me with referral slips. Every single one of them. My kind of client is a special kind of robot.
In this day and age, you may see all sorts of folk walking around in all states of augmented. Some do it for fun. Some because they lost a limb. Some not all. Metal arms, metal legs, metal hearts, and metal heads. All of them obvious in one way or another. But there are also some rare ones walking out there with fleshy bodies and metal minds.
Those are my clients: robots needing special service. When one of those metal-minded types detects a failure in their internal systems, they seek out a repair shop, not a hospital. But what is mechanic to do with a fleshy body? They refer them to me.
My shop is like any other: grease-stained and full of tools and rust. But there is a back room which is white, bright, and antiseptic. The front of the shop is for the metal mind and the back: the fleshy body.
When a client comes in, they hand me their slip. I, sitting in a mechanic’s chair, twirling a ratchet and splotched with oil, suss out a diagnosis from their disguised symptoms. Usually it is something simple requiring medicine a child could take, but robots do not eat pills. Sometimes it is more drastic requiring surgery. In either case, the next step is the same: I put them into shutdown mode which is to say, I discreetly anesthetize them. In that state, I can perform my maintenance.
In the case of simple medicines, I either use a tube to deliver pills or inject them as solution. If they need repeated doses, I have them come back to repeat the process as needed. And surgery is simply performed as expected with my having to convince them that recovery is their internal processes coming back online very slowly.
Sometimes things go wrong though.
One time, a robot woke in the middle of surgery. He was awake only briefly, but he saw me. And he saw his chest splayed open. And he saw me repairing his heart. Then he fainted. A week later he came back to my shop. He had a gun. And he threatened me demanding I replace his metal insides and take out the human parts I put in him. And he insisted on not entering shut-down mode while I did so.
I tried to talk him down. Tried even to convince him of the truth, but my assistants and I were eventually forced to carry through with his request. My hands shook like no surgeon’s ever have when, standing over the robot, someone handed me the rusty hand saw I used as decoration for my facade. And I almost cried when he, naked, screamed on contact with that saw. Fortunately, I only had to cut one ragged, rusty wound in him before he fainted allowing me to anesthetize him, clean the wound, and prepare some pig’s organs from the butcher down the road. When he woke, he found me in my stained coveralls putting away wrenches. I told him there was a power surge which knocked him offline, but that the reversal was a success. I showed a pile of “his” organs and let him dispose of them with a small fire. He made me promise to never do such a thing again, and then left. I have not heard from him since.
And that is hardly the only such disaster in the history of my shop.