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Ter-Ro placed the oil can back on the shelf precisely where it always sat. He didn’t care about the precision of the placement as it correlated to the other items on the shelf, but more about getting it settled into the same dust ring.

Temporary Air Defense Entity, or TADE as Ter-Ro had named the mechanical being he was rebuilding, still did not awaken. Ter-Ro had worked diligently for weeks now, doing everything his limited intelligence chip would allow to bring TADE into existence. Ter-Ro had located the disassembled parts in a ship graveyard one click from his own quarters as he was making daily rounds through the quadrant. Uneventful rounds, now that he was alone.

Except for this automaton he held in his arms, Ter-Ro was the last of his species. He had tried, but Ter-Ro could no longer deny that some inner part of himself ached for companionship; to share energy and space with one of his own kind.

Ter-Ro had often overheard the thousands of humans he had terminated refer to their feelings for their own kind as love. But he was a machine and had no need for such niceties. Still, regardless of what Ter-Ro named it, the unexplainable ache was there. Increasingly so, since he had death-shocked the last human in the sector.

Ter-Ro tightened one more screw on the inanimate body, then attached the ratchet drive connecting the brain of the construct to his own intelligence chip; something he had hesitated to attempt until today. Desperation breeds necessity.

Sparks flew like rocket exhaust as his creation finally opened its eyes. “Thank you,” a feminine voice spoke from the metal mouth. Ter-Ro watched as a tear rolled down the host’s shiny cheek and a thunderous booming sounded overhead. 

“I’m sorry. Take cover,” his new friend said. “A rocket strike is imminent.”

Seeing the tear, Ter-Ro’s insides rumbled with a strange new feeling. Love?

He fought desperately to ignore his instincts, but as a programmed Termination Robot, he had no choice. Ter-Ro disconnected the ratchet drive from his chip, rendering his new companion droid lifeless once again. A tear rolled down his own cheek just as a live bomb dropped through the overhead bunker.

LeNai LeRue

A Galaxy A-Part

Tragic mechanical romance

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