AJ-1 held the baby close as it sheltered behind the broken wall, the warbot was getting closer but was unable to detect the android, its stealth circuits doing the job they were designed to.
AJ-1 waited until the machine trudged away then set off south towards its destination, the android had been tasked with this mission just before the machines of the Alphamind smashed their way into the undergroung laboratory. The robot knew there was no way back as all the humans who were sheltered within would now be dead, the Tower massive fortress and last bastion of humanity was over a hundred miles distant and there were barely enough supplies for the journey, it might be necessary to scavenge at some point.
AJ-1 carefully examined its fragile package and the infant stirred slightly regarding the android with her blue eyes, the robot making a cooing noise as it had been programmed to do then stroked the baby’s face saying in a soothing tone. “Don’t worry Tilly, AJ will get you to safety.”
They were only twenty miles from the Tower when the Alphamind’s servants finally tracked them down, three of the giant machines had followed their trail to the ruined town they were sheltering in and one got a visual on the small metal figure dashing from building to building with its precious bundle. The giant war machine could not use radar to acquire its target accurately as AJ-1’s stealth circuits were still functioning perfectly and it’s first burst missed allowing the android to take cover behind a lorry that was little more than scrap.
The metal monster lumbered by unable to detect the fugitives and all would have been well if Tilly had not took it into her head to start bawling. “Please my love, stop crying.” AJ-1 rocked the baby but the warbot had heard and now loomed menacingly over the wrecked vehicle.
The android was armed with a pulse rifle and calculated that a shot into the vision port might disable the warbot but knew to fire it meant putting down Tilly, the terrifying machine had visually sighted them and was bringing it’s chain gun to bear when the baby looked directly at it and smiled, the mechanized killer lowered its weapons and stopped dead. Realising the infant had something to do with this AJ-1 began to slowly edge away then froze upon hearing a new sound as an armoured vehicle clanked along the road into town. Upon seeing this a warbot clumped towards its target only to be incapacitated by a missile, another tank unseen in the skeleton of a large shopping arcade had hit it. The remaining active war machine moved cautiously behind cover to wait in ambush for the approaching vehicle.
AJ-1 knew that humans would be aboard and struggled with its inbuilt directives, its duty was to save them but Tilly must be protected at all costs. AJ-1’s electronic brain raced through the possibilities then rapidly coming to a decision carefully placed Tilly in the cab of the lorry then ran out in full view firing the pulse rifle ineffectively against the giant machines armour. At this the warbot turned and charged out of cover towards the android allowing the tank’s crew to launch a missile which blew apart the machine’s head, it flailed around briefly before crashing to the ground.
Several men emerged from the vehicle raising weapons. “Are you AJ-1?” the nearest soldier asked.
Before the android had chance to answer it was cut down in a hail of bullets, the third warbot now free of whatever influence the baby had on it had come to its electronic senses and targeted the small metal figure. Both tanks fired and the last of the trio was destroyed.
“Save the baby… save the baby… save the baby.” AJ-1 was lying ruined on the pavement it’s circuits dying.
“I’ve found her, she was in the cab!” shouted a soldier, upon hearing this AJ-1 felt a strange sense of relief before going offline.
“Come on guys we have to go, the radar’s picked up a dozen of the bastards heading towards us.” called the tank commander.
“We’re on our way.” replied the sergeant who was carrying Tilly in his arms. “Grant, what the hell are you doing?”
The soldier called Grant was knelt by the wreck of AJ-1 prising off its skullcap. “Sir, after what this robot did it doesn’t deserve to lay here and rot if I can retrieve the chip we might be able to do something with it.”
“No, we go now soldier!”
“But sir, it sounded just like a human being.”
The sergeant paused. “Bloody well hurry soldier, a horde of the damn things will be on us soon…”
AJ-1 came online lying on a cot and feeling the pressure of it against it’s back, the robot was calculating how to define this new sensation when a noise attracted it’s attention and raising its head saw a smiling face, a face that could only belong to a much older Tilly.
“Hello AJ, I’m Tilly I’m so glad to meet you at last.” said the girl, a strange warm feeling registered on AJ-1’s sensors.
“How you have grown.” said AJ-1 in a voice it did not recognise.
“Yes I’m seven years old, I don’t remember you but daddy told me you saved me from the bad machines.”
“Yes Tilly that is correct.” AJ-1 answered.
The girl looked to her side, “my daddy wants to talk to you now, see you later AJ.”
A man came into view as the girl left. “Hello AJ I’m very pleased to meet you, let me introduce myself I’m Professor John Davis the husband of your old mistress.”
“Yes she spoke often of you, you are a specialist in robotics. I’m very pleased to meet you too sir, is this the Tower?”
“We’re in one of the levels deep below, we made some advances against the Alphamind while you were offline but there is still a long way to go before we can reclaim the world.”
“It is good that your daughter is safe and well Professor Davis.” that warm feeling again.
“Well AJ, you see Tilly isn’t actually my daughter but she has become like one to me in the past seven years, I can’t thank you enough for looking after her so well.”
“It was this unit’s programming sir, your wife instructed this unit that the baby was to be protected at all costs.”
“Nevertheless that trick you pulled with the warbot at risk to your own existence was something else.”
“AJ-1 is expendable sir, the humans were not.” The android ran through its memory. “This unit sustained 87% damage before going offline, why has it been reactivated?”
“You’re a little bit more than just reactivated AJ. I couldn’t let you cease to be after all that effort, tell me, do you feel any different?”
“Sensory circuitry has been significantly altered, running temperature is higher than usual and other anomalies are present that as yet cannot be identified.”
“Sit up and look at yourself in this mirror.” ordered Davis.
AJ-1 regarded its reflection, a beautiful dark haired woman looked back. “You have made this unit look like the professor… your wife, why?” the robot held up its right hand and examined it.
“A soldier recovered your memory chip and when it was examined we found far more there than was expected, my wife worked in experimental genetics and had downloaded all of her work into your brain.”
AJ-1’s mind sprang to a conclusion. “You grew this body using the data recovered?”
The man smiled. “My, you are quick on the uptake, what equated to your mind now inhabits a cloned body gestated in a vat. It took us quite a while to achieve the process but using the recovered information we were able to accelerate your growth to equal that of a twenty year old in just five years, my wife’s first attempt only produced a new-born.”
“Tilly!” said the android in realisation.
“Again you are quite correct, Tilly was grown from my wife’s DNA and you were grown from a sample of Tilly’s, like her you are very special. You see to beat the Alphamind and its heinous creations we needed a new type of human, one who can control robots with their mind. Tilly can do this to a degree and will be able to control it better this as she grows but you who were once a robot should be able to achieve this much sooner.”
“Once a robot… Then I am I a human being now, I am alive?” asked AJ-1, tears welling unbidden in blue eyes.
“Very much alive and more than human AJ, there is much for you learn but it will keep for now, go and find your sister Tilly.”