MetroGnome

“Sorry about your Earth, Metro,” Roger said. The cyborg stepped out of a tall black portal and joined the other two in the garage.

“Condolences: Accepted,” Metro, a short, spindly humanoid robot, replied. Roger thought he saw Metro’s eyes darken. He could not be sure due to the robot’s abstract face. Golden light pulsed where his mouth would be when he spoke. “Action: Express Gratitude. Thank you, Roger.”

“Anywhere else you want to go? You robots have any other Earths?” Sirius asked. Roger saw the tall, anthropomorphic Doberman cast an eye toward the door as if he wanted to leave.

“Information incomplete. Metro only knows two Earths.” His head dipped low; Roger thought he looked sad. Roger stepped forward and patted the chest-high robot on its head. His shiny silver hand clanked against Metro’s white, bald metal head.

“Well only one of those Earths isn’t occupied by Ballisea, so you’re welcome here as long as you like,” he said.

“Lodgings:..,” Metro’s head swiveled a full 360 to appraise the garage. Roger’s old, run-down truck was parked on one side of the large building. He recognized dozens of archaic, from his point of view, tools. “…accepted. Action: Contribute. How can I help, Roger?”

“Hey you want to pull your own weight, that’s perfect,” Roger said. “It’s not neces-”

“We need a sixth,” Sirius said. Roger forgot he was there, and now he wished he rushed him out sooner. “Thanks for the trip, Sirius. You can leave now.” Sirius smiled and turned his short snout up at Roger as he turned toward the door.

“Metro will be the sixth that you need. Information Request: Sixth what?” Roger patted Metro on the shoulder then walked around to stand in front of him.

“We need a sixth member for our roller derby team,” he shook his head. “But I don’t think you can do it. The nanos here don’t recognize you.” Metro raised his hand up. The white-crystalline skeleton hand disintegrated into golden nanos. The luminescent swarm hovered where his hand was, then it formed into a bone-like hand again.

“Metro is nanos. Metro ignores AlterNet nanos,” he looked up at Roger. “Information Request: Will Roger accept contribution of Metro as sixth?”

“Hey, you don’t gotta contribute anything,” Roger said.

“Response: Unrelated,” he continued to stare at Roger to wait for an answer. Roger sighed.

“No, I will not accept your contribution as sixth,” he said. “It wouldn’t help us at all.”

“Response: Denied. Elevated pulse detected. Lie detected. Action: Metro will become sixth.”

“No, we don’t nee-” Roger tried to change Metro’s mind but he was interrupted when a swarm of golden nanos enveloped the small robot. After a moment the swarm cleared. The small, lean, crystalline robot was replaced with a shorter, more human form. He was a solid-white, big-eared gnome with curly golden hair and a golden goatee.

“Holy hell, did you go through the character creator that fast?”

“Affirmative. AlterNet designation: MetroGnome. Class: Bard.”

“MetroGnome, huh?” Roger grinned. “I like it.” he walked around the thigh-high gnome looking him over. “Why a bard?”

“Metro’s class choice compliments Unique Soul #32, El Músico .” Roger took a step back and stared at the alabaster gnome through wide eyes.

“You’re a Unique??”

“Affirmative. Metro is Unique.”

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