Last of their kind

“Come on, let’s get you somewhere safe.”

The perfectly modulated voice soothed the fussy infant as the artificially warmed metal arms wrapped an extra blanket around the small body before picking up the child. The robot nanny hesitated a nanosecond as its ultrasonic ears gauged the distance of the approaching danger.

The man-made caretaker gently cradled the now sleeping baby to itself as it quietly made its way from the nursery. The baby’s parents, soldier-scientists, were already gone, trying to stop the corrupted machines from usurping mankind’s existence. The nanny ‘bot, one of only a handful that didn’t receive the tainted software update, communicated over a secure line to others, coordinating the rescue of their charges.

Outside the two-story bungalow style dwelling, opposite the fighting, the artificial intelligence paused, mapping the safest, most efficient way out of the suburban sprawl. The warring machines’ metallic screeches and whirs echoed from between the buildings, overwhelming but not obliterating the sounds of human wails of pain and anger.

Satisfied with its chosen route, the nanny ‘bot set off, still cradling the warm bundle in its arms. It dodged through and around darkened houses, skated past small pockets of humans intent on their own survival, and silently stalked past advance machine scouts.

The safety zone, a machine-less area once prized by humans as a serenity haven, was miles distant, through many heavily contested areas. The caretaker was also sure it would have to carry the baby past machine-controlled zones and around human-populated areas, and it was equally sure that both factions would try to steal its charge.

The ‘bot’s ultrasonic ears picked up heavy vibrations, coming from directly in its path. Clutching its bundle tighter, the AI slowed its movement, scanning the darkness for someplace to hide. Just ahead and to the robot’s left was the last house in the subdivision, a low-slung hacienda style house, with archways leading to the front patio. The caretaker slipped quietly into an arch and powered down all unnecessary functions. It settled in to wait out the quickly advancing behemoth.

The gigantic machine, with spider-like legs, lumbered over, or in some cases, through houses on its way to join the fighting. The smaller machine trembled with the shockwaves the heavy feet sent through the ground. Spotlights roamed the surrounding area, coming from five round eyes in the bulbous main portion of the large machine. Grinding and popping sounds accompanied each of the giant’s steps, telling the small machine that the mechanisms in the beast were wearing thin.

The nanny ‘bot searched its databases, identifying the behemoth as an outmoded mining machine. Confusion clouded the AI’s main chip. How did an outdated mining machine receive the malicious software? Outmodes didn’t get updated past their date of discontinuancy.

The small robot continued searching its databases, looking for update information and who had access to the mining machine. What it found made it pause in its rescue mission. It stared after the rapidly diminishing behemoth, duty warring with desire in the machine’s microchip brain.

The baby stirring in its arms resolved the nanny ‘bot. It turned back toward safety, hands patting the baby, perfectly modulated voice singing a lullaby, pitched for only the baby’s ears to hear. After it delivered the baby, it would continue its search for the person behind the war. Because only a living man could have accessed the outmoded behemoth and the nanny ‘bot suspected many more outdated machines would be joining the war against the humans.