A/N: Steel requested the prompt: "Give me Team Lightyear 5 years after the events of BLoSC! What has changed? What's still the same?"
This... doesn't really fill that prompt, but my imagination sort of ran away with me.
If there was one thing a planet as sketchy and shifting as Trade World could be relied upon for, it was a never-ending supply of garbage. Wherever you went, even the supposedly classy upper levels, you'd find muck strewn about, usually right where you needed to walk. For most people it was an inconvenience, but for some it was a lifeline. You could find the most useful things in the trash, and even when it was pure garbage you could still earn a couple of bucks hauling it in to the recycling facility.
Some people just collected whatever trash they could get their hands on, but XR liked to think of himself as a specialist. He only picked up scrap metal and old electronics. These were the most valuable items anyway, and it saved him from having to sort the junk into categories before dropping it off at the recyclers'. Besides, he liked leaving stuff behind for the other garbage haulers to pick up. Some were in far worse straits than him.
He was feeling pretty satisfied with his latest haul. He'd just turned it in for a nice wad of uni-bucks, and he figured he might even be able to afford to take the next day off. Unlike the organics who scavenged alongside him, his needs were few. No food, no water, no clothing. Just a little oil, a service now and then, and a night at the charging station. He found he could usually turn in enough junk to cover all that. As long as he stayed clear of robo-looters and the street gangs, he had a pretty comfortable life.
Maybe I can even save up for another upgrade, he thought, looking down at his battered terrillium chassis. The once smooth metal was now scratched and faded. He'd had it serviced many times and had even upgraded his internal components occasionally, but technology was always moving on and he knew he had to keep up or become even more obsolete than he already was.
He ran his stubby fingers over the dented front plate of his chest, deciding it was time to have it replaced again. He remembered when he used to have each replacement painted with the same insignia, even long after it ceased being relevant. Now it was just plain white like the rest of his bodywork.
XR left the ground-level slums and took a rusty elevator up to mid-city level. Bright lights flashed on all sides as holo-ads floated between the buildings. Some things never change, XR thought. He couldn't remember a time when Trade World hadn't been this tacky. At least the air lanes weren't filled with impatient maniacs tooting their horns anymore, though. Most people travelled by telepad now. XR still preferred more traditional means of transport himself, however—he couldn't shake the memories of an unpleasant experience in his early life involving a prototype matter transport device.
Scrolling along on his worn treads, he finally reached his destination. There were robot charging facilities scattered all across the city, but XR liked this one best. The patrons were an eclectic mix of service bots, androids, hauler bots, low level security bots, pilots, and of course many unemployed bots like himself, but they were all friendly enough. Not like the station down by the docks, where the more jaded worker bots hung out, or near the bars where the robo-muscle of the underworld charged up.
"Hey, Larry!" he greeted the attendant. "Is my usual booth free?"
The taller—and, XR had to admit, sleeker and better built—robot nodded. "Right this way, Mr. XR."
They passed a long row of charging stations, many of them housing robots in the middle of a recharge cycle. A couple of guards stood watch, to make sure no one vandalised the clientele while they slept. XR grinned when he saw the familiar charging booth, Bay 3X-18, that he'd claimed as his own. He handed Larry the fee and was just about to plug himself in when he heard a voice from the booth next to his.
"Ooh, you're a vintage-looking model," the voice whistled. It belonged to a heavyset bot that had just finished charging and was now peering through the glass partition at him. Judging by its build, XR decided it was probably a construction bot.
"Yeah, that's me—a one-of-a-kind antique," XR laughed.
The other robot peered at him with interest. "Stop me if I'm being rude, but you must be what, a hundred years old?"
"Two hundred, actually, pal." He bit back another, more hollow, laugh.
"Wow!" The bot waved its hands excitedly. "I heard there were a lot of older bots still up and running on this planet, but I'd never met one before! My name's Oryon, by the way."
"Exar—unusual name," Oryon pondered. "You from one of the old frontier worlds?"
XR shook his head. "Not Exar. X-R. As in Expe— ah, well, forget it. But yeah, it's just XR."
"Ooh, yes, I remember now! That was when you all had serial numbers and stuff like that for names." Oryon tutted. "You're a brave guy, XR. I couldn't have made it through those days, nope sir! Imagine living through a time when you were considered property—equipment!"
XR shrugged. "Hey, on the bright side, we usually didn't have to pay for our own charging back then, am I right?"
"A few uni-bucks is a sacrifice I'm willing to make for my own autonomy," Oryon laughed.
"Eh, it wasn't so bad. Not for me anyway. I guess most other robots had it worse, but I never really noticed. My friends were all organics, and they never treated me like just a piece of equipment." Well, almost never. XR remembered all the dangerous tasks he'd been roped into doing because his team knew he could be put back together if anything went wrong (which it frequently did). But he'd never held it against them—that was just the way things were, right? It was what he'd been built for.
"What was your function back then?" Oryon asked eagerly. "Sorry, I know I'm holding up your charging session, but I'm such a sucker for a bit of history!"
Well, if it's history you want, you've come to the right bot. "I was a Space Ranger."
Oryon gasped. "Ooh! A Space Ranger! You mean like Buzz Lightyear?"
XR wanted to laugh and laugh until the synthetic tears came. Instead, he just said, "Yeah, like Buzz." Eighty years after the man was dead, and the legend still lived on. The Space Rangers may have been replaced by numerous smaller, more specialised law enforcement groups, but everyone still remembered the Pride of Star Command. XR wondered if the memorial statue to the man still stood in the Alliance Plaza. He'd been there at the unveiling of it—it was the last time he'd seen Mira Nova. They'd had a drink together after the ceremony and reminisced about old times. She'd looked so grey and wrinkled but her smile still dazzled him like a newborn sun. XR swallowed when he realised that had been seventy-five years ago. Even Mira was gone now.
"Wow!" Oryon clasped their hands together. "Did you... did you ever meet him?"
"Sure." XR smiled. "I bumped into him in the cafeteria once. He gave me his lime sherbet."
"Wow!" repeated Oryon. "That's so cool! Say, did you ever fight Emperor Zurg?"
"Evil Emperor Zurg," XR said automatically, though he wasn't sure why. It just seemed important. "Yeah, once or twice."
"Oh boy! Wait till I tell my friends I spoke to someone who met the Buzz Lightyear and Emperor Zurg!"
XR nodded, not really paying attention, instead gazing up at the sky. He wondered if he should tell the other bot about his adventures. About how well he had actually known Buzz. About all the times Zurg had almost killed him. About being best friends with Queen Nova and General Munchapper when they were both just a couple of young rookies like himself. He wondered if any of it really mattered anymore. It wasn't like anyone even remembered who Buzz's last teammate had been. History had moved on.
"Oh, hey!" continued Oryon. "One last question! Did you also know that old guy? Uh, what was his name? You know, the one in charge—Commander Nebula?"
XR's motor seemed to freeze up for a second. An image flashed through his mind of a stone marker standing in a beautiful field of green. Rows of Rangers were lined up before it, and he was at the very front, staring forlornly at the stark grey plaque. His brother was at his side, squeezing his hand tightly. "Yeah," he said, his voice quiet. "I knew him."