The female designed clockwork, or was she an android?… Ah, she didn't know what she was simply for the reason she was a mixture of both. She had gears, steam, and coal, but at the same time was made in the exact human form, and despite the gears, she moved smoothly as if an android would. But no matter what she was she hurried down the street with a strange sense of peace mixed with the underlying feeling of utter terror, something that she hadn't felt in years. Perhaps she was just in shock, mindlessly following her feet down the sidewalk as she headed right for City Hall, which by now was only a few quick blocks away. Her new plan, her grand blueprints were held in her grasp, her metal fingers crunching the paper as they kept squeezing shut with an unnecessary amount of effort. For a moment she briefly worried about it, but it wasn't like a few creases in the paper would ruin the designs that had been drawn. But even as she came to that conclusion she loosened her grip somewhat, just so the paper wasn't held in a deathlike vice. It was going to be accepted, they had to accept her plan so she really shouldn't worry.
It was dumb she had to go get this approved anyways. Back when she was first made she was the start of a new generation of artificial intelligence. The humans praised her often for her brilliant plans, funding her inventions and eager to help and approve whatever she needed. Her father, her creator was always proud of her and made sure she had everything she wanted.
But now the humans were dead and gone. This was just a simple fact. It happened so many years ago. Even her grand knowledge of all human intelligence couldn't save them. The plague hit suddenly and no one was spared. FireStone remembered the humans trying to set up quarantine zones, but it was all worthless.
Honestly, she should just delete those memories. They caused her gears to stress and clank loudly in her chest. Her microchip always heated up and for some reason, and she blicked fast even if she couldn't cry. Her water reserves were depleted years ago. Course she was programmed to mimic humans, it was just how she was made, made in their image, unlike everyone else around her. Oh yes, everyone held a humanoid form out of respect for their long-dead creators, but they were so different. Extra arms attached for the ease of carrying thing and wheels for legs were common upgrades. She still perfectly mimicked humans and refused to upgrade, unlike the newer models. They just didn't understand and respect human life because none of them were alive when humans walked the earth.
As Firestone walked she could feel the eyes of the others on her. How could she blame them, she was a freak in this world. Once the most important machine was nothing more than scrap in other's eyes now. Perhaps it was her fault, she should have upgraded to electric batteries years ago. But her blueprints called for coal and steam to run her circuits. She was supposed to be completely detached from the electric mainframe, first of her kind. This way she could never be hacked or get a virus that could harm her, even if her chip didn't affect her in that way anyways. The machine was just happy, yet saddened at the fact she could run on forever as long as she found something to burn. But as new models came out they were all electric, and so that was the norm and she was the freak. Besides some of her gears were run down and barely turning, what new model had visible gears anyway? Everyone had a nice smooth plastic cover to cover themselves. Firestone's clothlike human skin had ripped and been stained for years now. The cloth on her face was completely missing, all her gears exposed. She couldn't afford any repairs and often had to go to the scrap yard to get new parts just to keep functioning. The price of not being electric might as well be a death sentence.
The only things that weren't electric were the animals they had made to replace the creatures that died out years ago. Small wind up birds chirped and bounced around people's feet, letting out their recorded shrill chirps. Dogs sat utterly still and silent, their only purpose to obey their owners ever world. There was never an out of control pet unless there was a glitch. In that case, they were reset or scrapped.
That was another thing, every single thing ran like a computer. Firestone hated it. Yes, she had a microchip, but all it did was soak in data and store it, it didn't dictate her logic or life.
Once she tried to switch to electric to fit in. She installed a battery and charged up, and it as horrible. She felt energized in a terrible way. Her gears spun and struggled to keep up, her chip sparked dangerously and she felt like she was going to burst. The machine had to ripped that murderous death trap off of herself and spent several days in recovery mode.
Old memories stirred when she was in town. Not like she could help it, this was the first time in years she had seen any other AI. FireStone lived outside of the city, a few miles away from the junkyard. It was better this way, she was a freak anyway. But, with her new plan people had to love her again.
Her chest swelled out with pride, her gears spinning faster as her eyes locked onto City Hall. She didn't care for the new AI run the world now, she was still a survivor with secrets hidden within her circuits. She would solve their energy problem and become a hero to their kind, just like she was a hero to many humans.
As she headed up the ramp to the front doors she saw several new models turn their noses up, whispering to each other in disgust. Firestone paid no mind, not caring about the smoke came from her chest, it happened sometimes when she got excited. She was going to save the world.
~~~ 5 years later ~~~
The female was exhausted, but as she overlooked her work she felt the smoke drift from her chest. She had done it, it took longer than she ever thought but she got it working. Her invention took in sunlight at an increased rate with very little waste turned it into energy. And it wasn't a solar power, no it avidly sucked in the sunlight and converted it. The old AI stood beside the mainframe of her creation. It sat upon steel stilts to keep it safe from the water, a good 20 feet in the air actually, reinforced perhaps unnecessarily so. A tornado was never recorded in this area, but why risk it? She had placed it far from the city and deep into a swamp just to assure it wouldn't get vandalized by other AI. No one was allowed out here, a bit of water and any electric model was sure to die. But Firestone was safe, as long as her chest stayed above the water.
Excess energy wasn't even wasted when it came to her creation and instead transported to an offsite location where it would be stored until it was needed.
Modern AI was so dumb, even a human child could have thought of this plan! It honestly made FireStone laugh, or it would have if she wasn't so weak. Her cloth skin was completely gone, the water being cruel and ruining it. In the end, she ripped it off and burned it, that way no one else would ever take it from her. Like no one would ever take away this grand moment from her. As she switched the invention on she felt the deep rumble from within and watched as nearby sunlight was being sucked in.
Then she ran, she ran from her invention and onto dry land, rushing out of the swamp. Her gears clanked and strained as if begging her to halt and let them work slowly, but she was too excited to listen. As she rushed out of the swamp, running non stop she could see it. The city in the far distance, shining brighter than it ever had. Her grand plan worked, and it will always work like how the sun will always burn.
Another cold day in April came. FireStone didn't move from her desk, smoke billowing out of her chest and filling the room. Her head hung down in defeat, her hands trembling. She was so lonely. Everything was perfect, she was the hero. Everyone loved her and her free energy. The AI ran every energy company out of business with her grand work. She ran the world until the sun died. FireStone racked her brain and tried to fix it, trying to think of a new plan as day by day passed and the back up reserved was running lower. Then one day, years ago it was all gone. All the energy was gone. She watched as AI shut down, their batteries drained.
Everyone was 'dead', yet here she was like always. Being the only coal ran clockwork almost assured that she would live forever, as long as she remembered to put coal in to burn. She kept a few windup birds around, listening to their shrill chirps but it never helped. She could sit for hours watching them hop around, then power down when the key needed to be turned again.
FireStone had a few plans, try to activate the old dams the humans had made. But they were in disrepair by now, last time she head was they were falling apart just a few years after all the humans died off. Course she could work on a smaller scale, making mini damns and even a few mills along a riverside. That could sustain a few androids. Then with the extra hands, she could expand, in theory. But would it be worth it? Did she want to keep functioning in the first place?
In this dark world fire was the only light, and while there was light there was no hope left in her. She had lived past her creators and everything after her. Her great failures haunted her mind, mocking her in the silence of the room. Her right leg barely functioned, she had ignored one of the run down gears for too long and it broke, making it useless from the knee down. In theory, she could still get around, perhaps crawl her way into the junkyard and find something, while carrying a candle to light her way. But so much could go wrong.
She could slip and drop the candle, causing it to go out. A breeze could go by, causing it to go out. She could freaking do one thing wrong and cause the candle to go out, leaving her in the dark. Out of all the things the humans gave her, night vision would have been nice. It seems pointless, and she ran the numbers dozens of times. Sometimes it's okay to give up, to close your eyes and rest. You can't keep beating a dead horse.
The only thing she could do now was to let her embers die down to nothing, so she too could shut down and be at peace.