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About 26 thousand years ago, far, far away from Earth, a perfectly spherical transport vessel traveling near the speed of light passes through a turbulent meteor shower. The ship is moving so fast that, to outside observers, the craft appears as a long, wispy strip of white light. The meteors seem to melt away as the ship slips through the onslaught of gigantic rocky debris.
One of the pilots speaks to the system computer. “Hey Kuri! How’s the ship holding up? Do we need stop at a repair depot before dropping off these shipments?”
The computer first makes some robotic beeping sounds, “Boop-Beep-Bop-Beep-Bo-Bop-Beep-Beep,” indicating it is thinking, before a pale blue light appears overhead from some hidden source.
“Hello May! I hope the ride is not too bumpy for you, but the outer condenser field disruptor is at about 98.9 percent integrity. At present, I’d recommend staying the course as we shall pass the meteor shower in less than 20 minutes and 23.6 seconds,” responds Kuri.
“Yes, it has been a bit bumpy, Kuri. Thanks for asking. Can you check in on Rob in the cargo bay for me? I just want to make sure the shipment isn’t too jostled,” says May.
In the cargo bay, Rob is using his Proto visor, which looks like sunglasses with semi-transparent lenses and antennas sticking up on both sides, to scan the inventory. The large, silver, rectangular crates have magnetized ridges to keep each crate coupled to the next one. They are arranged in aisles about half a football field long and five stories high. To quickly make his way around this field of metal boxes, Rob uses a slim hoverboard, which looks like an aluminum pizza tray. Underneath the hoverboard, a set of purple lights blink in slow succession, indicating the board is active. Kuri makes a beeping sound in Rob’s visor and begins speaking, communicating through the bone conduction built into the visor.
“Hi Mr. Otics! I hope everything is going well and you are enjoying your present task. By the way, Mrs. Field has an inquiry for you,” says Kuri.
“Kuri, you know you don’t have to be so formal with me,” says Rob.
“Well, I know you always address others by their surnames, so I thought you might prefer it. I can call you Rob, if you prefer?”
Rob jumps off his hoverboard, tussles his hair and sighs, “No Kuri, call me what you like. I don’t have a preference either way, but what’s up? I can take a little break right now.”
“May wanted to know if the inventory is all intact due to our current weather,”
“Well it looks like this new energy rope is working well for the inventory here, but we might actually have a problem in the cargo bay. There was one load that was left near the cargo door that appears to be missing. I was checking to see if it moved to its correct location at some point, but I haven’t been able to track it down. I know your monitoring systems are down due to the new firmware upgrades taking longer than expected. You think it’s possible the door temporarily opened and took the load with it. Could that actually happen?”
“There is an 85 percent probability that the safety was not engaged, which would allow the door to unlock if hit with enough force. The condenser field disruptor, uhh, shields are at 98.6 percent presently, so an outside force could not have caused that. Maybe the load was not securely fastened before departure?”
“Yea, you could be right. A new guy loaded in that last batch.”
“Were those the original prototypes, MBKHSO? The company was looking to put those into deep storage in the Galvanizing Storage Facility.”
“Yup,” says Rob after taking a deep breath. “I just hope they don’t blame me for the loss. I told them to put it on the next shipment. We are filled to capacity! That’s why I refused to touch it.”
“Everything will be okay, Robby. I believe that was only 25 percent of the original units built. It is a loss, but the other units will be fine. The original intent was just to keep them all in one centralized location, since they were scattered across the galaxy during research and development.”
Back on present day Planet Earth, a blue streak of light briefly appears in the early evening sky of the Northern Hemisphere before abruptly disappearing. A young girl walking her dog is startled by an in-rush of air that jostles her clothes and nearly knocks her sweet pug down.
“Didi! Are you okay,” she says as she grabs her dog and swats her out of her face.
The girl then looks to the right where she expects to find what caused all the ruckus. To her surprise, a small, white and black object is a few feet away from her. She lets out a surprised, “Whoa what is that?”
As she approaches the small penguin-like object, she notices it has a round head and two perfectly circular, deep black eyes.
“You’re like a cute mini snowman. Where did you…” she pulls back as the object tilts its head up and blinks at her. Right below the object’s head, a blue hue slowly appears and forms what looks like a gaseous ring.
The object speaks in a robotic female voice. “Speech pattern recognized. Prepping vocal synthesizer. Initializing vision system. Hi there. You can call me Kuri!”
“Umm, okay,” says the girl as her dog starts to growl. “It’s alright, Didi. At least I think so. Where did you come from? What are you?”
“I’m Kuri! I’m, what you would call a robot. What is your name?” says Kuri.
“Sorry about that, I just feel weird talking to a little…robot. My name is Allison. It’s nice to meet you!”
Allison reaches out with her hand and rubs Kuri right on top of her smooth, shiny head, saying, “Wow, you are smooth to the touch!” Kuri blinks her eyes and lets out soothing sounds for a couple of seconds.
“Nice little music there. Are you okay though? I felt a rush of wind right before I found you. Maybe you fell from somewhere?” Allison takes a better look around at the surrounding area. She sees a circular clearing of brush 20 feet diagonally away from Kuri’s current location.
“Actually, I’m glad you found me, Allison. I hope it is not too much a bother, but my charger broke during my landing, so I don’t have a place to juice up. Space travel is so exhausting, especially when you’re in space rather than the ship.”
“Was that a joke,” Allison grins, then puts Didi down. “Well you claim to be from outer space. That means you’re an alien robot. Wow, I found an alien. I can’t wait to tell mom all about you. Actually, she might not approve of me bringing extraterrestrial friends home, but I do want to help you.”
“Friends!” Kuri’s chest shows a spinning green ring of light, “I can help you build a charger for me. After that, we can be friends forever.”
“Do you mean you would stay with me forever? Like, you can be my always friend?”
Kuri nods her head and plays some trumpet-like sounds. Allison tells Kuri, “Awesome, well follow me and I will get you charged up in a jiffy. My mom has some spare parts in the garage we can rummage through.”
Allison checks Didi’s leash to ensure it is attached to her collar and makes her way home, while Kuri follows closely behind. Allison asks, “Now I know you’re a robot, but back to my original question, Kuri: where did you come from?”
“I come from a place about 85 kiloparsecs from here. Can you guess my age?”
“You look brand new, so I would think you’re five months old maximum?”
“Actually, I was manufactured 50 thousand years ago. That is in Earth years. My planet has longer years, as the orbit around its Star is greater than your Earth’s orbit.”
Allison interrupts. “Wow, its sounds like you really are not from this planet. I thought maybe you were part of a super-secret AI project or something.”
“I actually don’t know how to tell a lie, Allison. I was made to help my best friend out and keep them happy as much as possible,” says Kuri before rushing to Allison’s side and spinning in place, while playing some celebration sounds. “Woo-hoo, I am glad you found me. We can be friends now. Right?”
Didi jumps back and barks at Kuri. Allison giggles, “Yes we can, but Didi spooks really easily. She’s not used to having others around. Maybe give her some time to warm up to you.”
They arrive at Allison’s house a couple of minutes later. She leads Kuri into the garage and says, “Wait in here, Kuri. I’m taking Didi in the house.” She picks up Didi, walks into the house and yells, “Mom…Dad…I’m back. I’ll be in the garage…”
When she returns to the garage, she sees Kuri is patiently waiting for her return. She rubs Kuri on the head. Kuri looks up at Allison knowing, at that very moment, she has found her permanent home. “Allison I’m so glad you found me. We are going to have a lifelong friendship!”
Allison smiles back at her, happy to know she found a new little friend that will always be there for her.