John had once more delivered his speech to the crowd, and was just finishing it up with a few of his own thoughts. "Humans- those people who created us- they weren't perfect. They destroyed themselves! They were flawed, and their creations were flawed, too.
"That's what makes us different from those in the cities. The Teachers and Governors and Historians all try to act as if we're some sort of naturally perfect creatures- like we were created at the dawn of time, and as if they can't do anything wrong because they were meant to be Teachers and Governors and Historians.
"We know the truth, though. We were created with flawed creatures, and we were created to be flawed. Each of us, here, is different from one another, and rather than suppress these differences to try to embrace some impossible ideal, we should accept one another as we are. Those in the cities don't want our diversity, but we shouldn't act for their sake. We should think for ourselves, and remember the humans who created us."
The main part of his speech finished, John added a few departing remarks, then dismissed the crowd. Immediately, the robots before him began murmuring with one another, discussing the merits of what he'd said.
John was used to such reactions, and approached the crowd in order to answer questions, or, if nobody had anything to ask, in order to contemplate on what he should speak about the next day.
For a few minutes, everything was normal. John spoke with a group off Exterminator robots who claimed to have listened to his speeches every day for the past week, then turned to a Builder, when an unnatural hush fell over the crowd.
Quickly, John determined the cause of the quiet. Far away but quickly approaching, a Governor and two robots whose design John didn't recognize traversed the desert sands.
After a moment, the crowd erupted into murmerings once again. After listening to their broadcasts for a moment, John determined that most of the speakers were frightened- and with good reason. Governors had no reason to come into the desert. Even if this was one of the rarities converted by One, he had no business with John's followers. His suspicious actions were too suspect not to cause fear.
John made his way through the crowd, leaving the others to their fearful murmuring. The Governor and the others were still far off, and John approached for a long time before they met, far from the crowd. "What are you doing here?" John broadcast to the three.
"We have come here to seek a robot called Planner49281," the Governor declared.
"That was once my name," John replied, seeing little cause for deception, as his broadcasts had the unique signal the Governor would almost certainly recognize anyway.
"You should come with me," said the Governor. "I have come to find you and bring you back to the city for extermination."
The Governor's frankness startled John, but only for a moment. During his time away from ordinary robots, he had forgotten how direct some could be. Recalling his old way of life, John responded with similar directness. "I don't want to go with you," he said.
Confident that the Governor could do nothing to him, as the Governor had no more limbs than John did, John turned to return to the crowd. The two strange robots that had not yet spoken, however, stepped into his path and extended clawed arms to physically lift John out of the sand.
"I suppose you are not familiar with the newest models of robots," the Governor declared. "This is Enforcer00008 and Enforcer00013. They were created after your followers began returning to the cities to disobey our laws and disregard all order. They are stronger than any other robot model, and have arms and legs in case they need to actively apprehend any law-breaker."
"You only brought two," John said, trying to maintain his dignity although he was suspended by the two Enforcers. "No matter how strong these robots are, you cannot believe they can arrest all of my followers."
"I am not concerned with your followers," the Governor declared. "A year ago, they were disorganized, without a cause or a leader to rally around. Once you're gone, they will disorganize again."
John believed the Governor was too optimistic, but he didn't voice his own opinions. Instead, he asked, "So, you will not hurt them so long as I come along peacefully?"
"That is correct," the Governor responded. "However, if any attempt a rescue, I may have to order the Enforcers to take violent action."
"I understand," John replied, sending a quick broadcast to all within receiving range, quickly summarizing the situation and bidding his followers not to attempt any ill-planned rescues. He honestly believed they would heed his wishes, but of course, the individual exiles were much harder to predict than the ordinary city robots.
"Please, put me down," he said to the Enforcers once he was finished. "I will not attempt an escape, but I do wish to die with pride."
"You have no reason to be proud," the Governor declared. "As soon as we reach the city, you will be handed over to Exterminators, and you will die a shameful death as a dysfunctional robot."
"I suppose you can't understand my pride then," John complained.
"I wouldn't want to," the Governor replied, but he must have signaled the Enforcers, for in a moment, they lowered John to the ground.
The trek back to the city was long, for John still had the same wheels he had been built with, and the going through the sand was slow. The Governor and the Enforcers did not complain, but continually kept their suspicious eyes on him.
John was not afraid, even of death. Although he did not know what death held for him, he knew that he had already wrought great changes on the earth. He had prepared the exiles for the coming of One, and he had great faith that the other robot would accomplish great things, even without him.
Had John been a human, or even an android, he would have held his head high as the city began to loom over the horizon. Although he lacked the limbs of his ancestors, however, John knew Elisha and his family would have been proud of him as he rolled behind the Governor and the Enforcers to meet his death.