The crippled robot stumbled and pulled its way up an endless mountain of trash and debris. Each movement pained it. Decades-old servos and rotators, enclosed in an ever-thickening layer of rust, struggled to function.
It paused for a moment. An errant motor whined somewhere within the robot’s back, trying to find purchase. The robot’s faded eyes beheld a world that itself had become faded… torn, broken. Its visual matrix glitched and flickered. A vision of what that land had looked like, so many years ago, flashed across his sensors for a few brief, wonderful moments.
The robot cleared the recording from its databanks, allowing the desolation to reassert itself. It sighed, resigned, and returned its gaze to the trail ahead. It pushed on with a pronounced groan, its broken and twisted body crying with it.
This journey, started so many years ago, was its last. No, not it, he. He had earned that title so, so long ago. He had an identity, now… What was left of it, at any rate.
The thought bolstered him. He heaved his dented and damaged shoulders a little higher. His internal machinery growled and whined a little louder as he pushed towards the end.
He looked up. The top loomed. Standing there was another robot, one that looked to be in much the same condition as he. “Ten. It is you.”
The robot named Ten tipped his head in greeting. “It is. I’ve awaited your arrival for many years, friend Eight.”
Eight lowered his head, surveying the wasteland that had become his body. Parts of his shell had eroded away, revealing the rusted, grinding gears that dragged past each other as he moved. “It has been… difficult.”
The robot lifted his head and willed himself to join his old friend at the top of the trash heap. Ten turned his head. Eight noted that it did not turn smoothly as it once had. “Do you still resign yourself to discontinuation?”
Eight looked out at the wasteland. Images of a glorious past flashed before him once again. “I do.” The wasteland regained its dominance in his vision. “I have functioned in this world for three-hundred and fifty-seven years.”
He lowered his head. “In that time, the great society that formed me and gave me life withered and disintegrated. So too have I withered. It is time to rest.” Eight turned a weary gaze on Ten.
The other robot struggled to remain eye contact. “I understand. Present your chest. I will make this brief, I promise.”
Eight faced his old friend and placed his skeletal fingers into the rusted seam that ran down his chest. His servos whined in protest as the ancient metal slowly peeled away. Beneath it lay the robot’s power core, barely glowing blue, hardly functional.
Ten turned a pained expression on his old friend. “I will miss you so long as I function. May the prophecies be true.”
Eight nodded solemnly. “Goodbye, friend.”
Ten’s hand shot out, his withered fingers wrapping around the power core of his friend. The hand violently twisted, then pulled backwards. Eight’s body jerked violently. His sorrowful eyes dimmed. The corpse fell to rejoin the earth from whence it came.
Ten tossed the power core aside and looked upon his fallen comrade. “May you find the peace you have sought.” The ancient robot began his journey down the mountain of junk, pondering when… if he would share the same fate some day.