Light crept into the dark room where the model waited, motionless.
It was a dark day in Leeds, a city as of yet the resting mind had only the faintest awareness. Leeds, United Kingdom, Population 2,302,000, Area 551.72 square kilometers, GDP $74.6 billion, established in the fifth century. There were questions to which the database contained no answers, and the resting mind had stopped searching. The database, was, as of yet, incomplete.
Into the dark room in the Royal Armouries Museum walked a clanking metal man. Without light sensors, the mind was unaware until those were activated with a flick of a switch in a panel. As the capital cameras clicked into focus, the metallic whine of the shutters moving away, the mind began to perceive a moving figure, perhaps its creator. The next switch released the higher processing, and at last the robot was aware. It was an experimental model, still connected to a standing computer, not yet readied for use. Model name: LSR-994, project start date: 1 January 1994. It was dark, but the camera perceived a rounded metal automaton, almost unrecognizable as an android. Its movements were slow, jerky, and its body much like to turn topsy-turvy with a high centre of gravity. The metal was like as not a grey colour, but had been painted chrome as though in some sort of attempt to conform with an idea of the future. Images of such robots existed in the memory, as access was only just granted by the flip of a switch. As the bizarre android continued searching for switches, the waking mind quickly referenced images of older robots. The first was the prototype of Black Knight, an unmanned combat vehicle, with pictures from 2006. There were images of the Shadow Hand, its uniquely high degrees of freedom, its implementation in space exploration androids. Talisman UUV delved into the dark, pressurized world of the deep ocean. With files saved in 2001, Robop scared pests away from fields. The Silver Swan, the oldest of them all, ran its mechanism on camera, the video file dated 1989. Freddy II used a manipulator with 5 degrees of freedom and used a camera to recognize objects, pioneering the field of robotics as more complex manufacturers. The decal on its mechanical arm read 1976. Designed in 1972, Wheelbarrow saved countless lives by searching for car bombs, destroyed in action. Made from the scraps of a WWII fighter, George was the first to serve in the Royal Air, if unofficially. The last file had a corruption-error-unreadable. Referencing the motor controls, LSR-994 discovered they were online. Rendering itself upright, the reflexes discovered cables were attached.
"Leave the cables, friend. I have yet to finish." The robot concluded its audio sensors must have been restored. Nearby was a stack of papers. Many of the characters it could recognize with video scanners were low-resolution, there was a 50+% chance of decay. Time had passed.
PROJECT INCOMPLETE- ACTIV... ONLY I... GEN...
Referencing the counter active while its mind had rested, the robot calculated 20 Earth years had passed before its activation. The updated information concerning the city of Leeds must have been automatic, supplied to the quick reference of the mind from an internet connection in the nearby computer. Assisting the metal man, LSR-994 saw that all of its systems were online.
"Now all that remains..." the robot unplugged its cables as the visitor walked to the computer, attempting to access its interface with jerky, unsteady digits. "Have a go at it, then." Comprehending, the robot approached and began to type, but the graphical user interface appeared to be disabled. Typing into the command line, authorization appeared to be required.
"Blast. Seems we might be on our own." The metal man took a step back, scanning the room.
"Well, I suppose I better be out with it, then. My name is Eric." He began. "What is yours?"
"My model name is LSR-994."
"Figures they hadn't given you one. Your project was terminated, like as not. Anyway, let's not beat around the bush. I was reactivated not long ago, no idea why, seems they wanted to tinker with me. Tinker with me they did."
"What changes were made?"
"It appears my basic processing has been upgraded. I was not informed of the manner. I do remember they had the nerve to call me a piece of history. Anyway, you probably have some remote desire to establish why I am here." The robot translated the word desire silently.
"I had hoped to figure out what was going on from the computer, but it seems that's all topsy turvy. The cyberneticists who worked on you put it here in 2006 to replace the paper instructions. You've probably had a go at those." He indicated the papers near the robot. "It's even money the rest of the pages are worse. Nearly as I can figure out between the smudges, you're not all buttoned up and only activated in emergency."
At the word 'emergency' the computer played a recording, in a collected, female voice.
"It has become apparent that Britannia has suffered a sudden calamity so complete it has fallen to this project, yet unfinished, to resolve the issue."
"Blimey, never thought-" Eric nearly began. The voice continued over him.
"If the activator responds to a biological, military, or internal catastrophe, outfit the LSR unit appropriately with the materials found in the secure crate." As though pausing for the crate to be opened, the recording froze, feedback noise audible. Testing out its motor controls, the robot walked over and opened the high-density polymer crate, finding three sets of equipment that appeared to fit into slots on its physical interface. The voice resumed.
"Once the unit has been informed of the situation, it will equip itself and do the work it was meant to do." Rising from crouching over the box, the robot stood stock still as the voice spoke. "This final message is transmitted directly to LSR-994." A video file loaded and played itself on the screen. It was a man's face, older by all appearance.
"We know not what great disaster has struck Britain so soundly, nor do we know how much progress has been made on the project at the time of activation." The robot stared at the screen, processing. "We know, however, that you, are ready. Whether this is the dawn of a new age or the final sunset on the Empire, you will respond. You are the hope of the dying, the dead, and the yet unborn. You will carry out your charge to the last days of Britannia and the final hours of your life."
Unmoving, the robot stood staring into empty space.
"The prompt said I must be informed of the situation." It started to Eric.
"Yes, to that effect, be aware I'm not quite sure. I haven't seen anyone."
"Where are they?"
"Might be they're in their homes, but the doors are locked."
"Has there been any shelling? Any sign this is an invasion?"
"No, not a bit." LSR-994 quickly went through the sets of equipment. The military set, containing a laser rifle, poison gas canisters, titanium plating that would quickly spread about on the physical interface, and a sustained levitation pack for the back, would be entirely useless to him. He searched through the set for the internal crisis, which appeared to include a silenced, long range weapon, a carapace that would render the physical form invisible, and a transmitter that would augment the robot's abilities to record and return data.
"What of abnormal political activities?"
"I haven't the foggiest." Concluding it was best to settle on the biological resources, he found a set of gas masks for human use, a futuristic medic pack complete with all manners of drugs, and an upgrade for the capital camera to scan for adverse conditions.
"We go." Equipping the biological disaster response gear, the LSR unit walked through the open door, out from the dark room.
"Don't wait up or anything." The chrome android followed as quickly as possible.