“What about that one?” Roger pointed at a sleek, white cube by the door. It appeared to be made of translucent crystal, but the material was so dense the inside could not be seen. The gnomish shopkeeper shrugged. He sat on a raised platform behind the till.
“Found it. Couldn’t get it open. As is, 300.” The gnome said.
“300? For a nice, but likely empty, box?” The gnome grinned.
“It’s heavier than it looks; it’s got something in it.” Roger walked to the perfect cube; its height reached his waist. He crouched on his metal legs then wrapped his metal arms around the box. His torso and head were the only human parts he had left. The cyborg pushed up with his legs and lifted the crystalline cube. He cleared about half a foot, then dropped it down again. It landed on the stone floor with a hollow thud.
“Must remain in disguise,” the war sentinel reaffirmed its course of action to itself.
“It’s heavy alright,” Roger said to the gnome. “Doesn’t mean anything, though. I’ll give you 200 for it.”
“205 just so I can say we haggled,” the gnome replied. Roger agreed with a nod. He held his palm out and a small, three-inch golden cube, gathered in his hand. Then he gave the cube to the gnome.
“205 plus everything else.” The gnome closed his hand around the cube. When he opened it again the cube was gone.
“I’ll send it to your guild hall,” the gnome replied with a friendly smile. “Thanks for your business!” Roger nodded, then turned to leave. The moment he stepped out of the shop the gnome called after him.
“Wait!” Roger stopped at the door and faced the gnome. The tiny man shrugged.
“All sales are final,” he said. Roger gave the gnome a confused look.
“Okay,” he turned to leave again.
“That thing…,” he pointed at the cube next to Roger. “…isn’t recognized by the nanos. You’ll have to carry it home. No returns,” he reminded Roger. The cybernetic man sighed but nodded. He crouched, grabbed the cube, then stood up again. This time he had a better idea of how much it weighed and put his machinery to work. He lifted the heavy cube with ease and walked out of the shop.
“Advanced robotics detected. Appraising anachronistic anomaly.” The war sentinel discreetly scanned Roger while the man carried him out to the main road. Roger stopped next to an old beat up pickup truck and dropped the cube onto the bed.
“Well, no sense carrying you home if you’re worthless,” Roger patted the top of the cube. “Let’s see what’s inside.” Roger hovered his hands in the air in front of himself. His fingers moved rapidly as if he were typing on a chest-high keyboard. A white powder bloomed into the air inside the truck, but it did not float higher than the edges of the bed.
“Scan complete. Combination of organic and mechanical lifeform detected. Attempted non-invasive scan detected. Probability: friendly lifeform. Action: Request assistance.” A golden light began to glow from inside the cube and show through the outer white crystal. Roger noticed it immediately.
“Whoa..what’s that?” His fingers wiggled in the air and the white dust in the bed of the truck settled down.
“My name is Metro,” the cube said. The golden light in its interior flickered and modulated as it spoke. “I am lost. Please assist.”
“Metro, huh?” Roger asked. He climbed into the truck and sat down next to the cube. “You’re a cute little cube, Metro. Where’d you come from?”
“Current appearance is in disguise. Origin: Earth. Metro traveled through a dimensional portal and cannot find a path to return to Earth.” Roger patted the top of the cube.
“Yeah, that happens a lot around here. We can get you home, I know an Estrella. Disguise, huh? Can I see the real you?”
“Request for assistance: Approved. Request to reveal identity: Approved.” Golden lines formed around the cube and pieces separated from the core. A golden swarm of nanos whirled around the cube for a moment, then disappeared. When the nanos cleared a short, spindly, humanoid robot stood in place of the cube. Its body consisted of a white crystalline skeleton with golden energy flowing through it. Its head was a bald, blank abstraction with indentations where the eyes, nose, and mouth should be.
“Man, you’re something else, Metro. I think we’re gonna be great friends,” Roger said.
“Request for friendship: Approved.”