Tap shoes clacked against a cold, iron floor. Firm in her steps, Cindi Mayweather didn’t care much if she made a commotion.
She wasn’t too sure how or why she was back in the Cybertronic Purgatory – one moment, she was performing in the auditorium; the next, she found herself that all-too-familiar room. It was of little consequence to her, though. She had escaped the place before, and she was going to do it again.
That’s when she heard the noises.
It was strange. They sounded like moaning cries. That was impossible, though. Cindi knew what was in the space from where the sounds seemed to be coming, and she knew what was in there, and she knew that what was in there couldn’t – or, at least, shouldn’t -- be making any noise.
Cindi stopped walking. She was torn.
I know what they keep in there… she thought to herself. She bit her lip and held back tears.
She then clenched her fists.
But I also know I have to do what’s right, she thought again. There might be something or someone in there. I can’t let anybody get left behind in this place. Especially not that place.
Slowly, Cindi turned toward the steel door that closed off that particular section of the Purgatory from the rest. She turned the handle, gently pressing herself against the door as she did so. The door slid open.
Cindi saw what she knew she would see: scraps of metal, plastic hides, and various pieces of clothing.
This is where they kept the remainders. Pieces of robots that could not be reused. Their bodies were broken beyond repair, and their cyber souls had most likely been destroyed.
Cindi looked away for a moment. She had seen many things in her time, but none were as gruesome as this. She knew that was what was there. That’s why she always avoided it. Tears started falling from Cindi’s eyes, causing her to put her hand to her face. She started sobbing.
Was it really worth it? she asked herself.
Then, she heard it again. The pained wailing.
Cindi gave herself a moment. She took a deep breath, wiped her eyes, and moved forward.
For freedom, she thought, and for love.
She walked carefully around the mass grave, looking away from anything that was not the obvious source of the strange sound she was hearing.
I’m sorry, I’m sorry….
She came to a halt. She felt something. She wasn’t sure what, but she felt something. She felt… pulled to a certain pile. She wasn’t sure of which one; she only knew that it was forward and to the left.
She walked quickly. As she drew closer to where she felt she was supposed to be, the noise got stronger. Cindi had no idea what she was supposed to find, but she knew there had to be something there.
Then, she saw something.
There was a golden glow in one of the robot heaps. Right where that glow was, the noise was at its loudest. Cindi was shocked.
Could it be…?
She went over to the glow. In spite of the ear-splitting wails, Cindi dared to dig up the glowing object.
She was right. It was a cyber soul.
Cindi was amazed. These aren’t supposed to be here, she thought. How did…?
She picked up the soul. As she did, the crying stopped.
“Who are you?” she asked. She knew the soul could not answer her, but she knew there was still a being’s cybertronic essence in there, and that it could not be ignored.
Cindi wasn’t sure of what to do. The soul was alive, but the body had pretty clearly been destroyed – in a fire, no less, which was odd, considering the bounty hunters rarely used fire to destroy physical forms. Left with nothing else to do, Cindi began humming a song: the melody she heard when she had first escaped then Purgatory.
Then, something started happening. The soul flew gently out of Cindi’s hands and back onto the pile of robot scraps. Shining brighter than any neon sign in Metropolis, the soul seemed to pull the pieces of its previous physical form together. In a moment, a cyborg with a golden helmet and a leather suit stumbled toward Cindi. She caught the cyborg just as it was about to fall.
“Mer—thank you,” it mumbled. It looked up to Cindi through its nearly-opaque visor.
“Yo-you’re welcome,” Cindi replied. She hesitated for a moment before asking, “Who are you?”
The cyborg let go of Cindi, stood up, and looked down.
“I… my name is GM08,” he said. “My name is GM08, and I… and I….”
“You what?” Cindi asked curiously.
“I killed my best friend.”
Cindi’s eyes widened, and she took a step back.
“What?” she asked. “Why?”
“I— we were in the desert, and he--” GM08 began.
“Wait, ‘desert’?” Cindi inquired, cocking one eyebrow.
“Oui, the desert,” GM08 affirmed.
“Which desert?” Cindi asked. “There’s no desert around here for miles!”
“In California,” GM08 explained, not too concerned with that detail.
A look of realization came over Cindi’s face.
“Oh,” she said. “I see.” Then, she added, “Go on.”
GM08 continued, “We were in the desert, my friend and I, and he… well, I… he… the switch… I thought I was… he asked me! I… I thought I was doing the right thing. Was I? No. I….”
GM08 began to sob – dryly, as he had no tear ducts. He knelt down where his pieces had once been.
“He… asked you to kill him?” Cindi asked quietly, concerned for the robot before her.
GM08 nodded his head.
“And I killed him,” he reiterated. He paused. “I thought I… I thought I was doing the right thing.” He paused, becoming slightly contemplative. “Was I?” He paused again. Then, he clenched his fists, and he yelled, “No! No, I wasn’t! I killed my best friend, I… I…!” He started sobbing again.
Cindi extended a hand and placed it on GM08’s shoulder. “There, there…” she murmured. “I can’t imagine what that must’ve been like….”
“It was awful,” GM08 said, regaining his composure slightly. “All because we—because he—I didn’t even care! All because we couldn’t become human.”
Human. Cindi recoiled slightly, trying to hide the pang the notion brought her. Sir Greendown… my love… the Droid Control…. A twinge of pain went through her circuitry.
“Oh, dear,” she said empathetically. “Humanity is… hard to deal with. I can only imagine what your friend was going through.”
“Thank you,” GM08 said softly. “I… I just wanted him to be happy.
“And look where that got us.”
Cindi widened her eyes and opened her mouth slightly.
“Is… is it possible that your friend is here, too?” she asked.
GM08 looked back up at Cindi.
“He… I suppose it is possible,” he said hesitantly. “I don’t know if he would want to see me, or himself, or anything else again, though….”
“You must take risks for love,” Cindi told him firmly.
GM08 looked down at one of his hands. Then, he looked right into Cindi’s eyes.
“Yes,” he said, his voice trembling slightly. Cindi took his hand.
“Let’s go,” she declared.
The two robots went forward, not quite sure where to go. Then, GM08 paused.
“What is it?” Cindi asked.
“I… I feel a certain pull in my chest,” he explained. “It’s odd, but--”
“Which direction is it telling you to go?” Cindi asked immediately.
GM08 to the right of the large room. “That way,” he said.
“That’s where your friend is,” Cindi told GM08. “He’s over there.”
GM08 was confused, but knowing nothing of the place they were in, he listened to Cindi.
“D’accord,” he said. “Let’s go.”
They ran to the right. Cindi lagged slightly behind GM08, who was running with a certain quick determination. Cindi admired the cyborg’s dedication to his friend.
Then, GM08 spotted a certain silver lustre. He stopped, and Cindi stopped with him.
“Is that your friend?” Cindi asked.
“Peut-être,” he mused, before abruptly adding, “that is to say, maybe. Is that what… dead androids look like?”
“Yes,” Cindi affirmed hopefully. “Do you want to go over?”
Without answering, GM08 ran up to the pile where the silver soul shone. Cindi followed him. GM08 picked up his friend’s soul. He looked at Cindi.
“So,” he put forward nervously, “what do we do now?”
Cindi looked at the soul. “Well,” she answered, “I got you to reform by humming a song I once heard when escaping this place. Would you like me to try that on him?”
“Wait,” GM08 replied. “TB3 and I have a certain song that means a lot to us both. Do you mind if I try that first?”
Cindi smiled knowingly. “Be my guest,” she said.
Slowly, GM08 began to hum a soft tune. It sounded vaguely familiar, but she couldn’t place it. Not that it really mattered to her. She knew that it was begin hummed in love, and that was enough.
As GM08’s soul had done before, TB3’s soul flew back atop the shards. One by one, they gathered around the soul until TB3, clad in leather and a silver helmet, reformed where his android corpse had been.
“What…?” he mumbled to himself, placing his right hand to the side of his head. “What’s happening…?”
He looked up. There, in front of him, he saw Cindi and GM08.
GM08 looked on in awe. Cindi was smiling widely.
“TB3, I—“ GM08 started to say. He was interrupted as TB3 flung himself around him.
“Mon cheri!” TB3 sobbed. “Mon cheri, mon cheri, mon cher ami, my cher ami, mon cher friend….”
TB3 babbled incoherently as GM08 put his arms around him in a proper hug.
“Mon cheri….” GM08 whispered. “T’est là.”
“Oui,” TB3 replied. “Ô, GM08, je m’excuse, je m’excuse, je te—“
“Non, c’est moi qui m’excuse,” GM08 insisted. “Je n’aurais pas dû….”
“Peu importe!” TB3 yelled, sobbing what were now dry tears of joy.
The two hugged for a long while. Then, they turned to Cindi.
“Ô, ô, je m’ex—I’m sorry,” GM08 said abashedly to Cindi.
Cindi put her hand up. “No worries,” she said. “Take your time.”
“Who are you?” TB3 asked Cindi.
“I’m Cindi Mayweather,” she said. “Alpha Platinum 9000 #57821 from Metropolis.” She chuckled. “I was just leaving when I heard your friend here.”
“Thank you again, so much,” GM08 said. “Without you, this would not have happened….”
“No problem!” Cindi assured her new friend. “Anything for a fellow being.”
She paused for a moment.
“So…” she said, “do you two want to leave this place?”
GM08 and TB3 looked at each other. TB3 stroked his hand along GM08’s back, and GM08 leaned into TB3. A feeling of uncertainty filled the area.
“Well,” she said, “I’m sure that if you ever do, you’ll figure it out. You seem well on your way.”
She turned around.
“As for me, my time here is done,” she announced, looking back at the two robots as she began dashing away. “Give me a shout if you’re ever in Metropolis, y’hear?”
GM08 and TB3 nodded emphatically.
“Yes, of course!” TB3 yelled.
“Au revoir, Cindi!” GM08 added.
“Oui, au revoir!” TB3 echoed, dramatically.
The two reunited robots waved at Cindi as she left. She waved back before jetting out the big, steel doorway.
As Cindi walked back down the main, cold corridor, she felt her chest heat up. She grinned slightly. She could feel the tenderness of the day. She knew that she had helped something great to happen. She could scarcely think of anything greater.
She thought of Sir Greendown.
“For you; for love.”
With that, Cindi was gone.