So few robot myths remain in our legends. Perhaps it’s because humans can’t accept the faults of their electronic children. Maybe it’s because robots don’t tell fairy stories. Anymore. I think neither wants to admit how similar we truly are.
Folktales of the Spaceways, vol. 113
The Green Queen slammed her wand against her titanium-laced throne, “Commence with the defacement.”
Abe knew what he had to do next. He’d done it many times before. “I am sorry, Iron Jefferson.” His whispering voice hummed through his speaker grill. “I will be quick.”
“I do not wish to lose my face, Iron Abe. Can you help me?” said Iron Jefferson.
Abe looked around at all the beautiful prom queens of the Queen’s court surrounding them, their lithe, feminine robotic bodies contrasting sharply with his and Jefferson’s industrial functionality. He moved past the chains holding Jefferson in place. “I will do the only thing I can.” He loosened the clasps around Jefferson’s Faceframe. “I will save your face.” With the removal of the Faceframe, Jefferson’s robot body fell, suspended only by his chains. His smokestack ceased its sooty production.
“Iron Worker Abe,” said the Queen, rising. Her emerald dress swished as she stood. “You have the traitor’s Faceframe?”
Abe looked into Jefferson’s green eyes. The Faceframe felt so light. “Yes, your majesty.”
“Then connect it to the Make-over Array. I tire of looking at both of you.”
The array gleamed with surgical sterility. It sat like a headless chrome and plastic monster in its den. After locking Jefferson’s Faceframe into place across from his former body, Abe started the machine.
“My lovely subjects,” the Queen addressed her court.
Abe removed the defensive programming from Jefferson’s Faceframe.
“See the traitor before you.”
Abe knew Jefferson was now compelled to operate the Make-over Array against himself.
“For him, justice was swift and appropriate.”
Abe watched the construction arms descend and cut into Jefferson’s body.
“His Faceframe now runs the very machine that will bring beauty and order to his once treacherous form.”
The arms hacked and buzzed at the old, iron carcass. As Abe watched, the smokestacks and grills and dials disappeared.
“No longer will he be a threat to us.”
The shape changed. The contours smoothed. Wire veins and composite tendons knitted around the altered, iron frame.
“She is now one of us.”
The flesh crept from the Array around molded sinew, like living silk and synthetic fibers. A new prom queen stood naked before the others. Abe turned off the Make-over Array and watched the green eyes of Jefferson’s Faceframe turn black.
“Simply perfect,” the Queen declared. “See how I make beauty from ugliness. When humans were still aboard this ship, could they create something so wonderful?” She whipped her wand against the throne. “Delilah, take our new sister for reeducation.”
Abe watched one of the lady robots–like the others, but with spun, copper-colored hair around her bare, golden shoulders–step forward to take away the new one. Delilah looked at him.
The Queen sat down in her throne, borne away by attendants. After all had left the chamber, Abe removed Jefferson’s face from the Make-over Array.
He made his way back to his cabin, ignored by all who passed him. Once through his door, he found one of the few clear spots left on his walls and mounted Jefferson’s dead Faceframe with all the others he’d saved.